WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike G. Mullen presented the Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale Leadership Award to Cmdr. Richard L. Clemmons Jr. and Cmdr. Brian T. Howes Nov. 14 in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, a room paying tribute to those who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
“As officers in the Navy, we are many things,” said Mullen, “but first and foremost, we are leaders. These two officers represent the epitome of leadership and are a credit to the commands they represent.”
The award, established in honor of Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale, is presented annually to two commissioned officers on active duty below the grade of captain who are in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron or operational warfare unit at the time of nomination. It is awarded in honor of Stockdale’s distinguished naval career symbolizing the highest standards of excellence and leadership.
Unlike most other Navy awards, recipients of the Stockdale Award must be nominated by their peers who themselves must be eligible for the award.
“We are, by nature, a competitive outfit,” said Mullen, a 1987 recipient of the award. “The fact that these two gentlemen were nominated by others who are competing with them speaks volumes of their character.”
Both winners thanked the crews of the ships they commanded, as well as their families and friends who aided them in their careers. Clemmons, who commanded USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), paid special tribute to his uncle who is in a wheelchair and made the trip from Pittsburgh, Penn.
“I’ve never seen my Uncle Bill stand a day in his life,” Clemmons said. “But in my eyes he stands taller than anyone else I have ever met. He is my inspiration.”
Howes thanked former commanding officers for giving him the guidance to get him to where he is today, but reserved most of the credit for the award for his crew of USS La Jolla (SSN 701).
“I feel kind of like the coach taking credit for winning the big game,” said Howes. “I was fortunate enough to inherit an incredible group of Sailors who worked together to achieve extraordinary things.”
While Howes and Clemmons agreed there was no magic formula for success, they pointed towards their crews as being the keys to their successful command tours.
“What you believe, you will become,” said Clemmons. “If you believe you’re the best crew in the Navy, then that’s what you’ll be.”
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