USA: 2012 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year Announced

Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced its 2012 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year during a ceremony aboard Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., Feb. 28.

Personnel Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Marianogerard Y. Zamora Jr., of Silverdale, Wash., representing USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), earned Sea Sailor of the Year, and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/EXW/IDW) Cassandra D. Thompson, a native of San Fernando, Trinidad, representing Fleet Combat Camera Group Pacific, earned Shore Sailor of the Year.

“It feels surreal,” said Zamora. “The word honor is really not enough to describe the way I’m feeling right now. It’s beyond honor. All I was doing is what my chain of command told me to do. I just maintained commitment to my Sailors and the mission. That’s all I did, nothing different.”

Thompson echoed the same thoughts marking the significant impact of commitment to her Sailors and command.

“It’s about teamwork – being able to work toward a common goal with no regard to how it’s going to benefit you personally, because you want the mission to succeed or you want your command to succeed,” said Thompson.

“I think that’s the best thing about being in the Navy,” Thompson said. “People give of themselves. They stay up late at night. They do the things that are unpleasant, but they don’t care because it’s going to further the mission. That’s what I like about being in the Navy.

“If my experience this week has taught me anything, it’s that my network of support is far greater than I could ever imagine,” Thompson said.

While announcing this year’s winners, Vice Adm. David Buss said that he never met a more humble group of Sailors.

 “These Sailors represent an absolutely incredible group of professionals in our Navy today. Each has a unique story to tell. Each took a unique and different path and has taken challenges and obstacles in their way and transformed them into opportunity,” said Buss.

He said all of the finalists are characterized by similar traits of commitment, self improvement and humility.

“They’ve set goals for themselves and demonstrated that through striving for a common purpose you can achieve great things. They represent more than 40,000 Sailors who make up Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet and countless more who have formed the backbone of Naval Aviation for more than a hundred years,” Buss said.

“These Sailors are by far the best I’ve seen,” said Force Master Chief Anthony Johnson, who noted that this year’s candidates were very committed to the Navy and that they were competitive, but not in a sense of everything being about themselves.

“It was refreshing to see how they understand that it’s not just about them,” stated Johnson. “It’s about everyone around them that makes them better.”

During his remarks, Johnson advised each of the finalists to continue in the spirit of camaraderie.

 “You all are winners,” said Johnson. “Even the ones you’ve competed against to get this far are winners.

After arriving in San Diego Feb. 24, participants completed their last physical requirements and took part in an extensive interview process.

Later, the finalists and their spouses joined their service counterparts from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander, Naval Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet at various social events and luncheons, including a visit with the local Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and an event aboard the USS Midway Museum.

Zamora and Thompson will journey to Hawaii, where they will compete for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year titles.

The other Sea SOY finalists from Naval Air Forces included: Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 1st Class (AW/SW) Curtis Friesz, Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron; Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW/SW) Benjamin Moore, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 49; and Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 1st Class (NAC/AW) Yajaira J. Lewis, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 56

The other Shore SOY finalists from Naval Air Forces were: Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 1st Class Joshua D. Beltramo, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3; Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW/SW) Jason P. Hecker, Naval Airborne Weapons Maintenance Unit 1; and Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (AW) Joseph A. Pradia, Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

Naval Today Staff, March 6, 2013