SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (NNS) -- Two Sailors embarked on the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) were selected as Naval Medical Center Portsmouth's (NMCP) Junior Sailor of the Year and Blue Jacket of the Year, Nov. 7.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jefferson Chau was selected as NMCP's Junior Sailor of the Year and Hospitalman Lance Deet was selected as NMCP's Blue Jacket of the Year. Both Sailors are currently working in the Directorate of Nursing Services aboard Comfort.
Chua, assigned to Comfort's intensive care unit, expressed his gratitude toward his leadership for guiding him.
"I feel grateful to be selected and overwhelmed because everybody's going to be looking at me differently," said Chua. "Being selected for Junior Sailor of the Year, not just the quarter, is a big responsibility. I'm just grateful for everything, even my chain of command, who is helping me with everything-what I am right now and who I am going to be in the future."
Deet, who's a field medical technician, credits his selection of Blue Jacket to his three deployments. He deployed with the Marines for a unit deployment program in Okinawa, Japan, in support of Operation Cold Response in Norway and is now aboard Comfort providing humanitarian relief.
"It's an honor to be selected as Blue Jacket of the Year," said Deet. "I have four and half years in and I've deployed three times. Not a lot of corpsmen get that opportunity."
Lt. j.g. Gina Pica, a medical surgical nurse on Comfort, worked with Deet for the first month of the underway.
"Deet is really great at taking initiative to go above and beyond care-wise," said Pica. "He's one of our more experienced HMs [corpsman]. He's a great asset for a nurse to have when we have five or six patients at a time, just knowing that the patient and everything, is taken care of and that if there is an issue he can critically think to solve it."
Chief Hospital Corpsman Marlene Koza, who mentored and worked with Chua at NMCP, spoke about his dedication to the mission and his shipmates.
"He was deeply involved with several committees and is an extremely hard worker," said Koza about Chua. "He's very committed to the mission and just a team player. He supported the department as a whole."
Comfort is currently moored at San Juan, Puerto Rico, to provide humanitarian relief. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.
Comfort's primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Comfort's secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.