STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. John Okon, commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (COMNAVMETOCCOM), announced the 2017 Sailors and Civilians of the Year during an all hands held at headquarters December 19 at Stennis Space Center, Miss.
Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Adam Smith was named Sea Sailor of the Year (SOY) and Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Pedro Henry was named Shore SOY, while Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Joseph Skebeck and Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Brandon Cruz, both recently promoted, were named Junior Sea and Shore SOY, respectively. Okon also announced Megan Natter as Senior Civilian of the Year and Jacqueline Bussell as Junior Civilian of the Year.
"The U.S. Navy's freedom of action in the physical battlespace, from the depths to the stars, rests clearly on the shoulders of the men and women I am honored to serve with," said Okon, "There are so many on my team that show proactive leadership and enthusiasm every day. Whether big or small, everyone's role contributes to the mission's overall success. I'm pleased to recognize the best of the best."
Smith is stationed at Fleet Weather Center Strike Group Oceanography Team in San Diego, where he serves as departmental leading petty officer overseeing the professional development of 96 sailors. Under his watch, his sailors earned 33 warfare, 12 meteorology and oceanography analyst, three forecaster and over 40 shipboard qualifications. He also led 18 sailors in over 400 hours of volunteer service at a local elementary school.
"Petty Officer Smith's performance throughout the year has been nothing short of phenomenal," said Commanding Officer Capt. Mike Roth, "He is devoted to his sailors and the overall success of the command mission."
At Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Professional Development Center in Gulfport, Miss., Henry is the leading petty officer and only meteorology and oceanography instructor in the fleet serving as a course manager. He delivered more than 400 hours of college-level curriculum to 52 junior officers. In the community, he spent hundreds of hours mentoring over 50 eleven- and twelve-year olds in football, baseball and basketball.
"Whether it's training his students, providing advancement opportunities for his peers, giving back to the community or developing himself to be the best sailor possible, Henry approaches everything with gusto, poise and passion," said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Christi Montgomery.
Skebeck is the training leading petty officer at Naval Oceanography Anti-submarine Warfare Center (NOAC) at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where he is responsible for the operational readiness of over 40 sailors. He is also an oceanographic forecaster deploying with a team to provide environment briefings and tactical recommendations to destroyer squadrons and theater anti-submarine warfare commanders.
At the Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss., Brandon Cruz serves as the maintenance and training leading petty officer responsible for the maintenance repair cycle, training and equipping of 72 sailors across four worldwide deployable platoons and also acted as the supply manager during manning gaps. During fiscal year 2017, he provided support for over 90 local on-water operations and five major exercises.
Natter is the deputy assistant chief of staff in the Fleet Capabilities, Requirements, Concepts and Experiments Department at COMNAVMETOCCOM. During the recent rating cycle, she successfully defended the command's total manpower concerns resulting in 11 oceanography issues being selected as some of the highest Navy manpower matters.
Bussell is the security cooperation and security assistance program manager in the Strategic Plans and Policy Department at COMNAVMETOCCOM, where she supports the command's international strategic engagement plan; oversees foreign military training and sales, international agreements; and manages the official representation funds. She effectively managed many foreign engagements and visits this past fiscal year and additionally served as the Command's foreign disclosure manager while the position was vacated.
COMNAVMETOCCOM directs and oversees more than 2,500 globally-distributed military and civilian personnel who collect, process and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to make better decisions faster than the adversary.
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