USA: Navy Selects First Seabee in History as 2010 CNO Shore Sailor of Year


Navy selected the first Seabee in history as the 2010 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Shore Sailor of the Year (SOY) April 22, in a ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard after a week of selection activities in the Capitol.

Construction Electrician 1st Class (SCW) Leonardo Calderon, 31st Seabee Readiness Group (SRG), Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif., bested four other exemplary Sailors at this final and highest level of Navy-wide competition.

This is a historic moment for the Seabees,” said 31st SRG Commander and Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center Commanding Officer, Capt. John Korka.We are so proud of CE1 Calderon. We sent the right Seabee to represent us and he didn’t let us down. He will represent the Navy just as well for the next year as Sailor of the Year.”

Each year, every Navy command holds a selection board to select and recognize its best enlisted Sailor. These Sailors continue to compete at higher echelons until they reach the final competition – the CNO SOY Selection Board.

Calderon, the leading petty officer for the 31st SRG’s Contingency Construction Crew Training Division, described his journey from the 31st SRG to CNO SOY selection boards.

“I went through six boards, two in Port Hueneme, three in Virginia and one in DC. After being selected as the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command SOY, I started realizing that I belonged.

“At times it was intimidating. Coming from a small community, I really had to study the rest of the Fleet’s mission and guiding principles. But I soon realized that we’re all the same, and put our strongest emphasis and time in the development of our troops and the well being of our commands,” he said.

Sustained superior performance, leadership, self-improvement, command and community involvement, and military appearance are the keys to selection. SOY candidates who excel in all these areas while assigned to a demanding and challenging command are given special consideration, according to the CNO SOY selection guidelines.

Calderon recently completed his Master Training Mentor Qualification and achieved a bachelor’s of arts degree in business management from the University of La Verne, while at the same time continuing his Seabee duties and mentoring junior Sailors.

“I remember taking college courses in the field on my phone, long hours, papers, evaluations and teaching courses, and through that I had to muster up the energy and continue to see my goal. Where there is a will there is a way, go get it,” Calderon offered as encouragement to other Sailors pursuing a goal.

Calderon’s top enlisted leader at the 31st SRG, Command Master Chief John Mulholland, said, “I was humbled and honored to have had the privilege to attend the Navy’s Sailor of the Year presentation and ceremony. CE1 Calderon and wife Jamiah were as humble and proud. It’s totally a privilege to work with such high caliber professionals.”

Calderon attributes much of his success to the opportunities with the Seabees. “There are so many great things about being at the 31st, the opportunities are boundless. I could not have asked for a better command. The 31st has been supportive in all tasking. I had many good chief petty officers come and go and leave behind good guidance and sound leadership. I not only got to learn about weapons and tactics; I was reassigned to the Contingency Construction Training Division, where I continued to learn the capabilities of our force.”

“The most important thing I learned from this command is that the relationship of our leaders is crucial to our success, and that we must set the example for others as professional instructors and Seabees, and most importantly Sailors,” he said.

Calderon was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His family moved to Los Angeles when he was two, and he grew up there and joined the Navy shortly after graduating from Eagle Rock High School in 1999. He has been a Seabee since 2000 and joined the 31st in 2007. He is a veteran of numerous deployments including Iraq and the Philippines. Besides the 31st SRG, he has been assigned to Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 406, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4, and the Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC).

Calderon will travel to Washington, D.C. in May to be recognized for his selection as the CNO Shore Sailor of the Year. Recognition will include meritorious advancement to chief petty officer and awarding of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

Calderon’s next assignment will take him to NMCB 40, where he will shape and mold future Seabee leaders. “This is my opportunity now to reciprocate the opportunities that once were afforded to me, and ensure that I continue to uphold the highest standards of personal conduct, and educate myself and others in the future of our Seabees and our Navy.”

“I’m just proud and honored to represent the Seabees and I am here because of the great people who have contributed and molded me into the leader I am today. They should be proud too,” Calderon said.

The 31st SRG provides support to the Commanders, First Naval Construction Regiment, Ninth Naval Construction Regiment, Thirtieth Naval Construction Regiment and their subordinate units. It’s Seabee and Navy Civilian workforce serve as the personnel receiving and processing activity for deployed Pacific Fleet Naval Construction Force units.

Source: military, May 11, 2011;