NORFOLK (NNS) -- Fleet Master Chief Paul Kingsbury presented recipients with the 2017 Bob Feller Act of Valor award at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16.
Kingsbury attended the 5th annual award ceremony, hosted by the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation, to honor the awardees. The Bob Feller Act of Valor award and foundation, named for the Major League Baseball player who put his career on hold becoming the first American professional athlete to enlist in the military, aims to recognize citizens who support service members and educate younger generations with lessons of citizenship and service.
According to the foundation's website, eight recipients were recognized in six existing categories and two new categories introduced to recognize military children.
Each year one Baseball Hall of Famer, one current MLB professional baseball player, one U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, one afloat command, one shore command, and now two military children (ages 10-12 and 12-14 years) are presented the award. Additionally, one selection from the U.S. Marine Corps is presented the Jerry Coleman Award. This was the first year Kingsbury presented the awards.
"The master chief petty officer of the navy normally presents this award; since we are selecting a chief petty officer from the over 30,000 we have in the Navy, I was asked to present on his behalf this year," said Kingsbury. "Each year I see the announcements for these awards, but it was good to be in attendance and see the caliber of people selected for this award. Being able to attend and see our service members, their families and their children honored by the foundation was amazing."
Being a senior member of the Navy's chiefs mess, Kingsbury said he feels a connection he feels to Feller's story. Feller rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and was honorably discharged from the Navy as a CPO on August 22, 1945. He resumed his baseball career going on to win numerous national baseball championships. Kingsbury believed the principles that guide Navy chief petty officers today were just as important in Feller's service.
"I look at Chief Bob Feller and other chiefs that served during World War II and definitely they demonstrated the attributes," said Kingsbury. "They didn't have to join; they didn't have to give up their careers. That speaks to the initiative of a chief petty officer."
Kingsbury also expressed that while it was interesting to see how the roles of a hall of fame inductee, professional baseball player, and a Navy chief petty officer are connected, he was not surprised to see the commonality of their core characteristics.
"Seeing the attributes chiefs have, I can align those with professional baseball players as well. They have to have confidence, demonstrate loyalty, demonstrate professionalism and competence," said Kingsbury. "Ultimately this event was a way to connect it all through heritage, and that brought it all together for me."
The experience served as a learning experience for the most senior enlisted leader at USFF.
"I learned a lot about the award process and about Bob Feller's story," explained Kingsbury. "When I sit down with senior leaders I'll be able to convey the importance of this award."
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