Delbert Black

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Delbert D. Black
MCPON Delbert Black.jpg
1st Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Born (1922-07-11)11 July 1922
Orr, Oklahoma
Died 5 March 2000(2000-03-05) (aged 77)
Winter Park, Florida
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1941–1971
Rank MCPON collar.png Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Commands held Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Battles/wars World War II
*Attack on Pearl Harbor
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal

Delbert D. Black (11 July 1922 – 5 March 2000) was the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, from 13 January 1967 to 1 April 1971.


Black was born in Orr, Oklahoma, graduating from high school in 1940. He enlisted in the United States Navy on 14 March 1941. Delbert "Del" Black was married to Ima Black (who is 95 in 2015) for 50 years and has a son Donny D. Black. Upon completion of recruit training in San Diego, he was assigned to the USS Maryland (BB-46) and was aboard during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. He later served at Receiving Station, Pearl Harbor; USS Doyle C. Barnes (DE-353); Naval Air Base, Samar, Philippines; USS Gardiners Bay (AVP-39); USS Boxer (CVA-21); USS Antietam (CVA-36); U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, Washington, D.C.; Yokosuka, Japan ship repair facilities; USS Brush (DD-745); USS Carpenter (DDE-825); USS Norfolk (DL-1); Recruiting Duty, Columbia, Tennessee; USS Springfield (CL-66); USS Independence (CV-62); and Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center (FAAWTC), Dam Neck, Virginia. During his career, he advanced from striking for the rate of Gunner's Mate to the rank of Master Chief.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy[edit]

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.

Retirement and later work[edit]

The twelfth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West lays a single red rose at the gravesite of the first MCPON Delbert Black at Arlington National Cemetery.

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 from a heart attack at the age of 77. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 11, Site 496 LH.[1]

At a March 13 2015 ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Michael D. Stevens announced that an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Delbert D. Black would honor the legendary master chief.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal (Master Chief Black was the first Navy enlisted man to receive this award.)
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Unit Commendation
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Good Conduct Medal (with 7 service stars)
China Service Medal ribbon.svg China Service Medal
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal (with 1 campaign star)
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with 8 campaign stars)
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Navy Occupation Service Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with 1 service star)
Korean Service Medal - Ribbon.svg Korean Service Medal
AnArcRib.svg Antarctica Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal (with 3 service stars)
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines).svg Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (with Palm)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Philippine Liberation Medal (with 2 service stars)
United Nations Service Medal for Korea ribbon.png United Nations Korean Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal (with 1960 bar)
Korean War Service Medal ribbon.png Korean War Service Medal


Military offices
New title Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
13 JAN 1967 – 1 APR 1971
Succeeded by
John Whittet