PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- Electronics Technician 3rd (ET3) Class Ashley Bolden, with Ground Electronics Maintenance (GEM) Division, was named NAS Patuxent River's 2017 Bluejacket of the Year, recognizing her determination to learn and adapt quickly after joining the military at a later age than most.
"She was a high school math teacher and basketball coach prior to joining the Navy," explained Chief Electronics Technician Timothy Pendleton, Bolden's leading chief petty officer. "Coming from the civilian sector and not having any military experience made things a little tough on her at first. Learning all the acronyms and the language we use as Sailors and how we muster and do things is a little different than what she was used to."
After earning a master's degree and working more than five years in secondary education, Bolden came to realize she had lost her desire for that profession.
"I joined the Navy in 2015," she said. "The military was something that had always been in my thoughts and I decided then that it was now or never. I arrived at Pax River on Sept. 30, 2016."
Bolden's duties include corrective and preventive maintenance on electronic equipment, specifically the FPN-63 precision approach radar (PAR), and according to her nomination package, she personally completed 834 maintenance hours on GEM communications and radar equipment and provided vital maintenance support for seven work centers directly contributing to 22,982 flight operations with zero safety incidents.
"She was able to quickly adapt, asked numerous questions, and had a notepad and pen ready whenever you gave her training or told her to do anything," Pendleton noted. ""ET3 Bolden put in extra effort to get herself fully qualified ahead of schedule. She'd come in early and stay late in order to get some of the training. Her Navy enlisted classification is for the PAR, which is a specialized system that requires advanced schooling. This means whenever the PAR has an issue, she or one of two other techs is called in to work on it. At GEM, we have people manning our spaces 24/7, so our schedule is not a normal 9 to 5 day."
In addition to providing in-depth training on radar gear to two of her peers and one second class petty officer, she is the only third class petty officer to qualify as a Work Center Supervisor. Her efforts resulted in the completion of 836 Maintenance, Material, and Management (3M) preventive maintenance checks and 39 3M spot checks with a 100 percent accomplishment rate and zero discrepancies.
Calling on her background in sports, Bolden also serves as the Divisional Fitness Leader whose efforts resulted in no PRT failures.
"She provides an hour-long workout for 20 Sailors, including two Chiefs, twice a week," Pendleton said. "She comes up with interesting and challenging routines that not only give you a good workout, but keep you motivated and engaged."
Bolden's other collateral duties include GEM Division Command Pay and Personnel Administrator; working with the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society; SAPR Victim Advocate; Repair Parts Petty Officer for the OE-41 work center; and active member of the command Junior Enlisted Association.
Away from the air station, she volunteered off-duty hours in the community with the Animal Relief Fund, and the D.C. and Southern Maryland Special Olympics.
While Bolden said she was shocked to learn of the BJOY award, leadership recognized her incredible motivation and attention to detail that raises the bar for her fellow Sailors.
"She has an ability to lead," Pendleton added. "Even as a junior Sailor, she has stepped up and taken on duties that are normally handled at the first-class level."
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