After 33 years in the service and 1,435 days as the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Mike Stevens said goodbye to the Navy.
Stevens passed the ceremonial cutlass — the symbol of the Navy's highest enlisted position — to Fleet Master Chief Steven Giordano on Friday at the Washington Navy Yard and will take a position in Pittsburgh with a company that assists military members with their transition into civilian life.
Navy Times caught up with Stevens on Aug. 25, his last full day in the Pentagon, in an office now bare of his personal touches.
"It's a bittersweet moment as, obviously, as sad and emotional as it is to be leaving the Navy. I'm equally excited about new opportunities, turning the page and starting this next chapter of Theresa's and my life."
Stevens is fond of telling people the MCPON has "very little authority, no budget, and no one works for him." Even so, he's managed to steer the service into some big changes, beginning with his decision to do away with chief petty officer induction just four months into office.
He's never looked back.
He's made attending the senior enlisted academy mandatory to select for master chief, and revamped the school to handle thousands of senior chiefs annually to make the mandate a reality. He pushed hard for getting smart devices into recruits hands, a development he sees as a step toward arming every sailor with a smart device in coming years. And he was the driving force behind adopting the military's most lenient tattoo rules.
"I feel pretty good and I feel like we put it all on the field," Stevens said of his time as MCPON. "This is a young person's business and I'm an old person in it and the conveyor belt comes to an end and you have to step off and provide opportunity for others to come in behind you."
He was offered the chance to continue on as the MCPON by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, but declined, saying it was his time to go.
"This is a good thing as new people provide new ideas, which generates change, which results in betterment for the organization," he said.