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Chief’s Mess dedicated to Navy Veteran

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, officially unveils the plaque that rededicates the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association’s Chief’s Mess after her late husband during a ceremony at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018.

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, officially unveils the plaque that rededicates the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association’s Chief’s Mess after her late husband during a ceremony at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018. Traditionally, any naval vessel of sufficient size has a room or rooms which are off-limits to anyone not a chief, including commissioned officers, except by specific invitation. In naval jargon, this room is called the Chief’s Mess, or the goat locker. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)

Command Senior Chief Arthur Stoddard, Command Senior Chief for Strategic Communications Wing One - Detachment Offutt, speaks during the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association dedication ceremony of their Chief’s Mess at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018.

Command Senior Chief Arthur Stoddard, Command Senior Chief for Strategic Communications Wing One - Detachment Offutt, speaks during the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association dedication ceremony of their Chief’s Mess at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018. The group renamed the room after U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)

Mementos from U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran are on display in the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Chief’s Mess inside the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 2018.

Mementos from U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran are on display in the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Chief’s Mess inside the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 2018. The room was named after Sheeran during an official ceremony that day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, and his son, John, pose in front of the plaque outside the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Chief’s Mess that names the room after John following a ceremony at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018.

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, and his son, John, pose in front of the plaque outside the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Chief’s Mess that names the room after John following a ceremony at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018. Traditionally, any naval vessel of sufficient size has a room or rooms which are off-limits to anyone not a chief, including commissioned officers, except by specific invitation. In naval jargon, this room is called the Chief’s Mess, or the goat locker. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, and his son, John, look at mementos from John’s naval career during following the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association dedication ceremony of their Chief’s Mess at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018.

Linda Sheeran, wife of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran, and his son, John, look at mementos from John’s naval career during following the Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association dedication ceremony of their Chief’s Mess at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018. The group renamed the room after Sheeran, who served as a crewmember on the USS Wichita (CA45), was part of many World War II battles, including Convoy PQ 17 and the invasion of North Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ryan Hansen)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association dedicated their Chief’s Mess to the memory of U.S. Navy veteran and retired Chief Petty Officer John Sheeran during a ceremony at the 55th Operations Support Squadron Oct. 20, 2018.

Sheeran served for more than 20 years in the Navy as an aviation machinist mate before retiring in 1960.

“John not only lived the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment, but he was a fantastic father and husband,” said Command Senior Chief Arthur Stoddard, Command Senior Chief for Strategic Communications Wing One - Detachment Offutt. “For John, patriotism was lifestyle and not a fad.”

Sheeran passed Nov. 8, 2015 and was buried at Offutt, which is how Stoddard came to learn about his lifelong dedication of serving.

“In July 2017, my wife, family and I had just moved here from Japan, so I was looking to learn more about Offutt,” he said. “During lunch one day I took a drive to familiarize myself with the base a little bit and I happen to drive by the base cemetery.”

Stoddard walked the cemetery and looked for grave markers of fallen Sailors and came upon the grave of John Michael Sheeran. It listed no rank, but simply said U.S. Navy. He returned to work, but that name kept coming back to him.

“That night I rolled out of bed and my wife asked me what I was doing,” he said. “I told her I had to look something up, and so I got on the computer and within minutes I was able to find John’s obituary. And right there staring back at me was not just a Navy man, but the Navy man -- a Navy Chief!”

Sheeran enlisted in the U.S. Navy on December 6, 1940. During his Navy career he, as a crewmember on the USS Wichita (CA45), was part of many World War II battles, including Convoy PQ 17 and the invasion of North Africa. His squadron was part of the Berlin Air Lift and was the most active of all units in providing coal to the people of Berlin.

“We continuously teach our sailors that it was because of the American fighting spirit that we met success during each of these battles,” Stoddard said. “Coincidentally during each of these major campaigns a born leader named John M. Sheeran was present.”

After his retirement, Sheeran completed his education at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and taught math at Norris Junior High School for 20 years. He retired from Omaha Public Schools in 1982.

“If [John] were here today, he would do his best to stop this from happening,” said Linda Sheeran, John’s wife. “But what a great honor this is for John… and I’m just so pleased, honored and privileged to be here today and to share him with you all.”

Traditionally, any naval vessel of sufficient size has a room or rooms which are off-limits to anyone not a chief, including commissioned officers, except by specific invitation. In naval jargon, this room is called the Chief’s Mess, or the goat locker.

And from now on this particular Chief’s Mess located inside the 55th OSS headquarters building carries a new name.

“I can say with the firmest conviction that it is obvious why we… have made the affirmation to re-dedicate ourselves as the John M. Sheeran Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Mess,” Stoddard said.

“I’m just so grateful I took that drive in July,” he added.