GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Seaman Recruit Cameron Arthur, Division 324, graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command and earned the Military Excellence Award, Oct. 13.
Arthur, of Whitman, Massachusetts, joined the Navy to be a part of something bigger than himself.
"From a young age, I have dreamed of helping others for a living and by joining the Navy I can make that aspiration a reality," Arthur said. "At 13, I was introduced to the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, where I fell in love with the military lifestyle. I took pride in wearing my uniform and being a part of that team. It was after graduating from Sea Cadet boot camp that I decided that one day I would serve my country."
Prior to joining the Navy, Arthur was a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated in 2016 with a degree in biology.
"After graduation, I found myself working in the civilian world for a short time before I finally decided to follow my dreams and leave for the United States Navy," Arthur said.
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of his or her graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed him at the pinnacle of today's newest Sailors, and Arthur was awarded a flag letter of commendation.
Arthur said he was stunned to learn he had been named the MEA winner.
"For a while, I was waiting for my RDCs to walk in the compartment to call reveille and wake me up from this dream," he said. "It took a few days for it to set in and for me to realize that I was not in fact dreaming."
Arthur prepared himself for the physical and mental challenges awaiting him and didn't let up during his time at RTC.
"That definitely benefitted me," he said. "I believe that the hours spent studying for tests in the chow line, and the frequent ITE (intensive training exercise) sessions made me a smarter and stronger person. I also think that attention to detail; even to something as small as shining my dress shoes thoroughly the night before an inspection, helped me earn this award."
Arthur credited his RDCs, Chief Information Systems Technician Theresa Jacobsen, Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 2nd Class Matthew Smith and Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Nevia Hobbs with helping him earn this achievement.
"They are some of the most intelligent, hardworking, and motivated Sailors I have encountered during my short tenure in the Navy," Arthur said. "My RDCs made certain that the Sailors entrusted in their care were sufficiently prepared for any challenge boot camp would throw at them. Without them, I do not believe I would have earned this award.
"I also owe a debt of gratitude to my fellow shipmates. Over the past eight weeks we have become like family to each other and without them I would not have had as much success at RTC as I did. Lastly, my family kept me motivated by taking time out of their day to send me mail almost every weeknight."
After graduation, Arthur will attend Nuclear Machinist's Mate "A" School. He will then go to Nuclear Propulsion School and finally Prototype School. Machinist's mate duties in nuclear propulsion plants include operating reactor control, propulsion and power generation systems.
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. About 30,000 to 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
For more information, visit http://www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.