USA: Oldest Floating Commissioned Naval Vessel Presents George Sirian Award While Underway


The USS Constitution Chapter of the Surface Navy Association (SNA) presented their ninth annual George Sirian award aboard USS Constitution while underway, Aug. 19.

The SNA awarded Senior Chief Sonar Technician (Surface) (SW/IUSS) Eldon Duke for demonstrating exceptional seamanship, operational excellence, and inspirational leadership while serving as the weapons department leading chief petty officer aboard USS San Jacinto (CG 56).

“The award itself is very humbling, knowing what it represents,” said Duke. “I wouldn’t have received this award if is wasn’t for the help from not only my own mentors and chief’s mess who gave me the tools to be that leader, but my Sailors who tried to better themselves everyday to help make me that leader.”

Duke received a 19th century naval cutlass in front of Constitution’s crew and approximately 150 chief petty officer (CPO) selectees completing CPO Heritage Week, Aug. 15-19. The SNA also awarded him with a framed citation during a luncheon later in the day at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf.

“Senior Chief Duke’s engaged leadership and distinguished accomplishments on the deckplates truly demonstrate the spirit and excellence of today’s Surface Navy Chief Petty Officers,” said Force Master Chief Eric Page, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “He is a true role model and mentor for all Surface Force Chief selectees who will soon earn their coveted anchor collar devices.”

Every year for two weeks, Constitution Sailors hold CPO Heritage Weeks, teaching 300 selectees, including Sailors from the British Royal navy, a variety of time-honored maritime evolutions. The training is designed to instill pride in naval heritage and build esprit de corps while living and working aboard the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

Duke is one of the mentor CPOs helping selectees as they undergo the rigors of the CPO induction process.

“Senior Chief Duke showed me how to succeed as a chief petty officer,” said Chief (select) Master-at-Arms (SS) Matthew Thomas. “He taught me that if I genuinely caring for my people and the mission I cannot fail.”

George Sirian served in the Navy for nearly 50 years, one of the longest active-duty careers in Navy history. During his service, Sirian rose through the ranks from seaman to master gunner, and eventually warrant officer. He is also the only Sailor to serve three separate tours of duty aboard Constitution.

“I think presenting the George Sirian award while underway during CPO Heritage weeks symbolizes what the award is all about,” said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, 72nd in command of Constitution. “It ties together the importance of our heritage with the ideals of leadership and mission accomplishment which Senior Chief Duke clearly represents.”

Duke enlisted in the Navy in 1994. His previous duty assignments include Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity in Mayport, Fla., USS Vicksburg, JMF Street, Mawgan, UK, Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center Pacific (FLEASWTRACENPAC). His personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, three Navy Achievement Medals and five Good Conduct awards.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard of Boston Harbor and is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today’s Navy. Constitution’s mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship’s history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Source: navy, August 23, 2011;