Chief Petty Officer 1st class Churchill receiving a promotion following the Merit Review Board in early December of 2021

by PO1 Dilan Yildirim

Ambitious cadets receive promotions every year for completing their training. But, after they reach the rank of Petty Officer 1st class, advancing becomes a bit more challenging. They may obtain the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st and 2nd class through a special evaluation to obtain higher ranks. As a Petty Officer myself, I decided to ask one of our town’s senior sea cadets about his experience, to learn more about the process we call the Merit Review Board.

What is the Merit Review board? It is an evaluation of a cadet’s performance throughout the years and a test aimed at determining if they are ready to become leaders at our corps. When I asked to participate in the Merit Review Board, they gave me a stack of papers titled, “Merit Review Board Handbook”. Needless to say, I felt a little intimidated flipping through the pages. When asked about preparing for the Merit Review Board, senior cadet CPO2 Larmour said: “It’s very similar to preparing for a big job interview”.

In fact, the process does have a lot in common with that of an interview. Beforehand, the members of the Board examine the cadet’s experience, both in and outside the program, their qualifications, and their resume. During the Board, just like in an interview, cadets must be dressed to the nines, with shiny boots, creased pants, and their white top placed two fingers above the brow. Board members ask them a vast array of questions pertaining to the knowledge the cadets have accumulated in their years at the corps and throughout their life. CPO2 Larmour’s piece of advice to cadets like myself preparing for the Merit Review Board is to answer every question in as much detail as possible. Afterwards, the points are tallied and the Commanding Officer renders a decision.

In early December, the Merit Review Board convened for those wishing to obtain the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st class. The President of the Navy League, Peter Milsom, Slt Aimee Stoodley from our own corps, and Municipal Councillor, Kristin Strackerjan, were the board members in charge of assessing Chief Petty Officers Larmour and Churchill. CPO Churchill was awarded the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st class, and received his promotion and new badge shortly after. He says he decided to participate to further his “role and responsibilities in the cadet corps”, and because it is a “good learning experience”. There will be another Merit Review Board later this year for cadets hoping to become Chief Petty Officer 2nd class, including me. Wish me luck!

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