US Navy League Recognizes Area Sailors of the Year
The Lake County Council of the Navy League of the United States hosted their first Sailor of the Year Awards Dinner at the Port O’ Call Banquet and Conference Center, Jan. 19.
Rear Adm. Ricky Williamson, commander, Navy Region Midwest, was the keynote speaker as 18 senior and junior Sailors as well as five Blue Jackets of the Year from area commands were saluted at the event. A Recruit Division Commander of the Year from Recruit Training Command (RTC) and a Military Instructor of the Year from Training Support Center (TSC) were also honored.
Other commands with top Sailors recognized included: Navy Region Midwest; Naval Service Training Command (NSTC); Naval Operations Support Center (NOSC); Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL); James A. Lovell Health Care Center (JALFHCC) and the region’s Reserve Component Command (RCC).
“I think it’s outstanding the Navy League honors our Sailors,” said Williamson. “Their interests and our interests interweave, and it’s a strong partnership. Anytime they step up to host events like this dinner is great for our Sailors and the Navy.”
Williamson thanked the council for hosting the event and updated the members and Sailors attending the dinner on the status of the Navy and the job Navy Region Midwest accomplishes to support the missions of the Navy on a daily basis.
“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for everything the Navy League does here in Lake County and nationwide for our sea services,” Williamson said in his opening remarks before the more than 100 people in the audience. “Your support of our Sailors, Cadets, NROTC and NJROTC units and countless other programs continue to keep our future bright. I especially want to thank you for having this dinner tonight and inviting our Sailors of the Year to recognize their accomplishments. I truly appreciate it, and I know their chains of command do as well.”
The recognition dinner was in conjunction with the council’s annual meeting that saw the installation and confirmation of officers and officials. But it was the recognition of the Sailors that many council members agreed was the main focus of the night.
“The good part of this evening, in addition to our annual meeting, is to recognize the Sailors of the Year from all the different commands in the area,” said Roycealee Wood, the treasurer and a past president for the council, who also served as master of ceremonies during the evening. “These are young people who have done a good job in the Navy and should go far in their careers, and we wanted to show them how proud we all are of them and of their service to the country.”
Each Sailor was introduced by Wood to the council following dinner and Williamson’s presentation. They were presented with an 18-inch bronze replica of the Lone Sailor Statue that stands outside the U. S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D. C. There is also a life-size replica of the statue near the main gate to RTC.
The top Sailors from eight area commands were called up to the stage by Wood and individually recognized and congratulated by the outgoing and incoming council presidents reserve Navy Lt. Joe Neal and retired Master Chief Denny Behr.
“I’m so honored to be recognized by the Navy League,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Dawn Turner, 31, from New Orleans and the Senior Sailor of the Year for TSC at Naval Station Great Lakes. “This is the first time I’ve experienced something like this. I’ve been in the Navy for 12 years, and I’m an engineer. And we’re normally not involved with Sailor of the Year-type events. So it’s a very huge honor.”
RTC’s Recruit Division Commander (RDC) of the Year, Damage Controlman 1st Class Richard Regulski, 28, from Roseville, Mich., called the dinner and night amazing.
“This night tops off the accomplishments all of us have achieved over the past year,” he said. “Being recognized by our commands and by the Navy League is very rewarding for all of us and really motivates me, as it should all the honorees, to continue to do great things for our commands and for the Navy.”
NSTC’s Junior Sailor of the Year, Yeoman 1st Class Camille May, 29, from Muncie, Ind., was also motivated by the evening.
“This is one of those moments where you can sit back and say I accomplished something. And you can show other Sailors that this is the type of recognition you can receive for doing your job.”
Navy Region Midwest Senior Sailor of the Year, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Antoine Mitchell, 32, from Atlanta and the Leading Petty Officer of the Naval Station Great Lakes’ Security Force, brought his son to the recognition dinner to show him how hard work can pay off.
“It makes me proud and I think every junior Sailor should strive to become a Blue Jacket, Junior or Senior Sailor of the Year,” said Mitchell, who is also Naval Station Great Lakes Sailor of the Year. “This recognition shows that the chain of command cares and many in the community also care. I love it, and it’s something I can pass down and show to my junior guys that if you put in the work you do get rewarded.”
Naval Today Staff, January 24, 2013; Image: US Navy