Black, Delbert, MCPON

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Last Rank
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Last Primary NEC
MCN-92MN-Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Last Rating/NEC Group
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Primary Unit
1967-1971, Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), CNO - OPNAV
Service Years
1941 - 1971
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Panama Canal
Seven Hash Marks

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Cliff Link (Jugger), GMCS to remember Black, Delbert (1st MCPON), MCPON.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Winter Park, Florida

Date of Passing
Mar 05, 2000
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 11, Site 496 LH

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Last Known Activity
Upon retirement from active duty, Master Chief Black continued his involvement with the Navy through retired and active duty organizations. He was an active member of the USO Council of Central Florida; the Fleet Reserve Association; and Co-Chairman on the Secretary of Navy Committee on Retired Personnel. He died at his home in Winter Park, Florida at the age of 77. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 11, Site 496 LH. Navy's First Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, MCPON Del Black, passes away US Navy Press Releases Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Del Black died Sunday, March 5, at his home in Winter Park, Fla., from a heart attack. He was 77. A true pioneer, Black became the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jan. 13, 1967. The position was then referred to as the Navy's Senior Enlisted Advisor prior to evolving into the current title the Navy knows today. Black was born in Orr, Okla., and grew up a self- proclaimed "Oklahoma farm boy," before joining the Navy in March 1941. He served on board nine warships for a total of 21 years of sea duty throughout his 30-year career. This included serving aboard USS Maryland (BB 46) in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. During his service in the Pacific, he saw his ship torpedoed several times and attacked by kamikaze planes. "I was definitely haze gray and underway most of my time in the Navy, and I loved it," Black said recently. "Sea duty was one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the Navy to me. That's where you relied on your shipmates, as you fought, and worked side by side. That's what the Navy is all about," he explained.  Black's tour as MCPON covered the challenging times and issues of the Vietnam Conflict. Black quickly won support of Navy leadership for his newly established office. He was responsible for initiating the Command Master Chief program throughout the Navy to ensure proper enlisted leadership and representation. "Not only our enlisted force, but our entire Navy owes MCPON Del Black a great debt of gratitude," said current MCPON, MMCM(SS/SW/AW) Jim Herdt. "Americans lost a great military leader, and Sailors lost the best shipmate they could ever hope for," he added. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Master Chief Petty Officer Del Black, our Navy's first MCPON. Master Chief Black was a great leader who was tireless in his pursuit of improving the lives of our Sailors and their families. We are forever grateful for his service to our Nation. He is sorely missed by those of us who were privileged to call him our friend." Black remained active with the Navy even after his retirement in 1971. He stayed very involved with the Fleet Reserve Association and USO. In a recent interview he spoke of his close ties with the Navy. "The Navy is and always will be a part of my family. I never consider myself retired from the Navy, just less active. Anything I can do to help Sailors, it is my privilege to do, and I always will." That was obvious in his frequent travels around the world visiting with Sailors. Last December, he celebrated his 50-year wedding anniversary with his wife Ima in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where his career began. Herdt knows Black as nothing short of a hero. "Del Black was the John Paul Jones of the enlisted force. He was the warrior, leader, gentleman, and mentor that began the long march that brought the enlisted force from the era of rocks and shoals to the elite, professional and responsible force we are today. His contributions to our Navy will be talked about far into the future, and written about for all time to come," Herdt proclaimed. "MCPON Black was an icon for our Navy and, to all of us fortunate to know him personally, he was our hero," Herdt added. Black's first eight years in the Navy were aboard ships in the Pacific. His first shore assignment, a 14-month shore tour in Washington, D.C., was where he met his wife, Ima, then it was back to sea for seven more years. Black was the first Navy enlisted man to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Black is survived by his wife Ima, in Winter Park, Fla., son Don and two grandsons in Bluntsville, Ala. There will be memorial services in both Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., with his burial in Arlington National Cemetery at 1 p.m. Friday, Mar. 10.
Other Comments:
On 13 January 1967, the Secretary of the Navy announced that Master Chief Gunner's Mate (GMCM) Black was appointed as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor, the position that would evolve into Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. As such, he was the highest ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Navy, serving as the enlisted representative to the Chief of Naval Operations. He counseled the highest Navy brass on problems associated with enlisted guidance, leadership, and policy. Master Chief Black was the first Navy enlisted man to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. He also held the Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Good Conduct Medal (7 stars), American Defense (1 star), American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific (8 stars), World War II Victory, China Service, Navy Occupation, National Defense Service Medal (1 star), Korean Service, Vietnam Service (3 stars), Antarctica Service, United Nations Service Medal, Philippine Liberation (2 stars), Philippine PUC, Vietnam Campaign with device, and Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross). (MAR 2007) In his farewell message prior to leaving office, Black wrote: The office of the MCPON is at a point now, and it has been for some time, where cooperation with various branches and offices here in the Bureau is at its best. What has been accomplished is a good example of the importance of teamwork and working through people for people. It appears to me that the time to stay Navy has never been better. I can tell you about many career Navymen about to retire, who are wishing they could stay on longer. I am one of that group. But there comes a time when every Navyman must take his leave of active duty. It just seems that NOW is such a tempting time to linger on a bit longer. During his retirement and change of office ceremonies held at the Washington Navy Yard, Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee, Admiral Zumwalt and Vice Admiral Dick H. Guinn made remarks. The CNO presented Black with the Distinguished Service Medal. MCPON Black and Ima retired in Winter Park, Florida. Active in the Fleet Reserve Association and a member of the USO board of directors, he was able to be available to help sailors with their problems. Ima is also an active member of the FRA Auxiliary, the Navy Wives Club and the CPO Wives Club. Copyright � 1999-2006 San Diego Navy Historical Association, Inc.(MAR2007)
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Korean War/UN Defensive (1950)
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Communist efforts to divide the South Koreans against themselves having failed, the North Koreans decided to attempt their subjugation by military force. At 0400, Sunday, 25 June 1950 (Korean Time), North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into the Republic and launched their main effort toward the South Korean capital city of Seoul, down the P'och'on-Uijongbu and Yonch'on-Uijongbu corridors. Strong attacks were also directed through Kaesong toward Munsan on the right, and toward Ch'unch'on on the left. On the west coast the Ongjin Peninsula was quickly captured. On the east coast a land column and a small seaborne detachment met near Kangnung.

By 28 June Seoul had fallen, the North Koreans had closed up along the Han River to a point about 20 miles east of Seoul, and had advanced as far as Samchok on the meat coast. By 4 July enemy forces were along the line Suwon-Wonju-Samchok. In withdrawing, the Republic of Korea ("ROK") forces had suffered such serious losses that their attempts to regroup and retain order were almost futile.

On 25 June 1950 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling "for immediate cessation of hostilities" and "upon the authorities of North Korea to withdraw forthwith their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel." When the North Koreans failed to accede to these demands, the Security Council passed a second resolution recommending "that the Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and restore the international peace and security in the area."

President Truman announced on 27 June 1950 the t he had ordered American air and naval forces to give cover and support to the South Korean troops (UN Defensive-27 June to 15 September 1950). On the 28th he authorized the Commander in Chief Far East to use certain supporting ground units in Korea, and authorized the U.S. Air Force to conduct missions on specific targets in North Korea. On the 30th the President further authorized the C. in C. Far East to use all forces available to him to repel the invasion, and ordered a naval blockade of the entire coast of Korea.

A Security Council resolution of 7 July 1950 recommended the establishment of a unified command in Korea and requested the United States to designate a commander of these forces. On 8 July President Truman announced the appointment of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC). On 14 July President Rhee placed all ROK security forces under the United Nations commander, an act which consolidated the anti-Communist forces under the United Nations Commend for the purpose of repelling the Communist aggression.

The U.S. forces at MacArthur's disposal included the four divisions in Japan-the 1st Cavalry Division and the 7th, 24th, and 25th Infantry Divisions-and the 29th Regimental Combat Team in Okinawa. The divisions were lacking a third of their infantry and artillery units and almost all their armor units. Existing units were far under strength. Weapons and equipment were war-worn relics of World War II, and ammunition reserves amounted to only a 45-day supply. None of the divisions had reached full combat efficiency, since intensive training had been largely neglected because of occupation duties.

Initial U.S. strategy, dictated by the speed of the North Korean drive and the state of American unpreparedness, was one of trading space for time. On 2 July 1950 Task Force Smith, composed of two rifle companies and a few supporting units of the 24th Division, was flown from Japan to Pusan and moved by train and truck to defensive positions near Osan, 30 miles south of Seoul. Its mission was to fight a delaying action to gain time for the movement of more troops from Japan. On 5 July this small force was attacked by a North Korean division supported by 30 tanks and compelled to withdraw, after a stubborn defense, with heavy losses of men and equipment.

By this time the remaining elements of the 24th Division had reached Korea and were in defensive positions along the Kum River, north of Taejon and 60 miles south of Osan. ROK elements held positions to the east, some 50 miles above Taegu. By 15 July the 25th Division had arrived in Korea and was positioned east of the 24th Division. The 1st Cavalry Division arrived and closed in the P'chang-dong area on 18-19 July. Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Commander of the U.S. Eighth Army, had been placed in command of all U.S. ground troops in Korea on 13 July, and, at the request of President Rhee, of the South Korean Army as well. As the ground troops of other U.N. members reached Korea, they also were placed under Walker's command.

North Korean forces crossed the Kum River and captured Taejon, an important communications center, on 20 July. U.S. and ROK troops continued to withdraw steadily to the southeast under constant North Korean pressure. During the withdrawal our Army's 3.5-inch rocket launcher was used (for the first time on a battlefield) with highly successful results against North Korean tanks. It was in this period that the 24th Division commander, Maj. Gen. William F. Dean, was reported missing when North Korean tanks broke through the forward unite of his division. It was learned later that he had been captured about 35 miles south of Taejon on 25 August.

The final days of July 1950 witnessed a series of hard-fought battles all along the 200-mile front of the United Nations perimeter. The northern front, a line running inland from Yongdok through Andong, Yech'on, Hamch'ong, and Hwanggan to Kumch'on, was defended at critical points by ROK troops and the U.S. 25th Division. The 1st Cavalry Division was battling on the west flank to keep the Yongdong-Kumch'on-Taegu rail line open. To block the southwestern approaches to Pusan, which the enemy was threatening, the 29th RCT advanced to Chinju, but was ambushed by a North Korean division and suffered heavy losses. Enemy pressure continued from Yosu and Chinju in the southwest to Kwan-ni on the Taejon-Taegu railroad, thence northeast through Yech'on to Yongdok on the Sea of Japan.

By the beginning of August the U.S. and ROK forces had withdrawn behind the Naktong River, a position which the U.N. Command was determined to hold. The area held in southeastern Korea resembled a rectangle, the southwestern side of which was guarded by the 24th and 25th Divisions to prevent a breakthrough to Masan. The 1st Cavalry Division was deployed on the western front to guard the Taegu railroad approaches. The northern front was defended by ROK divisions from a point south of Hamch'ang to a point just south of Yongdok on the east coast.

Early in August General Walker declared the strategy of trading space for time to be at an end, and ordered a final stand along this 140-mile perimeter around the port of Pusan, which had become a well-stocked Eighth Army supply base and the hub of a rail and road net leading to the battle front. By now the enemy's lengthened supply lines were under constant air attack, enemy naval opposition had been wiped out, and the blockade of the Korean coast had been clamped tight.

During the next month and a half, fourteen North Korean divisions dissipated their strength in piecemeal attacks against the Pusan perimeter. Walker, by rapidly shuttling his forces to meet the greatest threats, inflicted heavy casualties on the North Koreans and prevented serious penetrations. The enemy, determined to annihilate the Eighth Army and take Taegu and Pusan, massed for a two-pronged attack across the Naktong, one prong from the west and the other from the southwest. The principal actions were fought along the river from Waegwan south through Song-dong and Ch'irhyon-ni to the junction of the Naktong and Nam Rivers, and southwest toward Haman and Chinju.

While U.S. troops were fighting along the banks of the Naktong, other battles took place in the southwest. A veteran North Korean division, which had been concentrated for an assault upon Susan and Pusan, was hit by Task Force Kean. Named for the 25th Division Commander, the Task Force was composed of the 5th RCT, the 35th RCT of the 25th Division, the 1st Marine Brigade, and a ROK battalion. It opened a strong counteroffensive on 7 August 1950 to secure the left funk of the perimeter and prevent the enemy from driving on Pusan. Overcoming initial heavy resistance, it defeated the North Koreans and by 11 August commanded the high ground to the east of Chinju.

On the eastern flank of the perimeter the town of Yongdok was lost by ROK units, some of which then had to be evacuated by sea. On 12 August the port of P'chang-dong was attacked by enemy forces led by tanks which mounted screaming sirens. This force poured through a break in the R0K lines and linked up with North Korean advance agents in the port. These agents, disguised as innocent-looking refugees, carried mortars, machineguns, and other weapons in oxcarts, on A-frames and on their persons. While a force of North Koreans took P'chang-dong, the adjoining airstrip, of great importance to the U.N. forces as a base for tactical aircraft. On 13 August the danger was so pressing that all aircraft were evacuated. Within the next five days, however, ROK troops and a small U.S. task force recaptured P'chang-dong and returned it to U.N. control.

During this time a much larger force of North Koreans breached the U.N. positions at some paints in the Naktong River sector, but failed in their attempt to capture the rail junctions at Taegu. To hold a line near the river, Walker rearranged the defensive positions of the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the 1st Marine Brigade, deploying them in a manner which assigned combat zones of 15-30 miles to each division.

The enemy, continuing his efforts to crack the perimeter, massed several divisions above Waegwan to assault Taegu from the north. Despite a bombing raid in which U.N. air forces dropped 850 tons of bombs on the suspected enemy concentration area, the North Koreans launched a powerful attack which carried through the ROK positions and threatened Taegu. Stalwart defense and swift countermeasures in this area on 19 August saved Taegu from almost certain capture, parried the enemy 's three-pronged thrust at the city, and stopped the momentum of the North Korean offensive.

Shortly before midnight on 31 August enemy forces again attacked the Naktong River Line, this time in tremendous force. Disregarding very heavy casualties from U.N. air force bombing and strafing, they mounted a strong offensive against the entire Pusan beachhead from Haman in the south to P'chang-dong in the northern sector. The port of P'chang-dong was captured on 6 September, but again the Communists failed to capture the airfield. Waegwan and the "walled city" of Kasan were lost as the U.N. defenders fell back for a last ditch stand at Taegu. Between 4 and 11 September the enemy made important gains along the Naktong in some of the heaviest fighting of the war; but U.N. forces blunted the drive on Taegu and began to show slow progress of their own against very strong enemy resistance.

On the southern front the North Korean offensive, which opened with a massive artillery barrage near Haman, struck the 25th Division with tanks and waves of infantry, imperiling its forward positions. However, although the enemy had made impressive gains along the U.N. perimeter and General Walker still had to shuttle his units from one critical area to another, a strong beachhead remained in the hands of the U.N. Command.

By mid-August the offensive capability of the Eighth Army had been augmented by the arrival of the U.S. 2d Division, the 1st Marine Brigade, four battalions of medium tanks from the United States, and the 5th RCT from Hawaii. Before the month was out, five ROK divisions were restored to some semblance of order, and Great Britain committed the 27th Brigade from Hong Kong. With the arrival of these reinforcements an attempt could now be made to end the U.N. withdrawal and to begin a U.N. offensive in southeastern Korea.
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  91 Also There at This Battle:
  • Amos, Bobby, PO1, (1949-1969)
  • Cope, Alfred Lovell, CAPT, (1928-1960)
  • Crandell, Kenneth, PO2, (1950-1954)
  • Erese, Damian, PO2, (1945-1966)
  • Flick, Robert
  • Foley, Warren, PO2, (1949-1963)
  • Freeman, Harold, CMC, (1943-1975)
  • Goodrow, Joseph, PO2, (1949-1952)
  • Linkey, Glenn, CPO, (1948-1968)
  • Patin, James Allen, PO3, (1950-1953)
  • Richard, Earl, PO3, (1948-1953)
  • Stotz, Joseph, PO2, (1948-1952)
  • Taylor, Robert, PO2, (1947-1951)
  • Walker, Robert J., MCPON, (1948-1979)
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