VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Two first class petty officers earned the coveted titles of Naval Surface Force Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year (SOY) at a ceremony March 7th.
Operations Specialist 1st Class Jermaine L. Moore, assigned to Afloat Training Group Norfolk, was selected as the Shore Sailor of the Year and Navy Counselor 1st Class Erika C. Rogers was selected as Sea Sailor of the Year.
"It is still overwhelming, such a surreal moment but very humbling," said Rogers, who is assigned to the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51). "One thing I will take away from this experience is that your hard work never goes unnoticed. There's always someone looking, whether it is the junior Sailor or the most senior person in your command."
Rear Adm. David M. Thomas Jr., commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, was the guest speaker at the announcement breakfast held at the Brashear Conference Center on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
After presenting each of the 10 finalists with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Thomas announced the two Sailors who will advance to the next level of competition at U. S. Fleet Forces Command.
"It has been my honor to be part of this event for the past three years," said Thomas. "Here we have among us the best of those deck plate leaders. I am so humbled to be part of the same Navy that you all are in."
Using a meticulous, time-consuming process, six panel members screened written package submissions and narrowed the field to ten finalists. Earlier in the week they conducted oral boards with these ten Sailors and made their final selections.
The selection board was made up of a panel of six command master chiefs representing Expeditionary Strike Group 2, Destroyer Squadron 14, Afloat Training Group Atlantic, Naval Safety Center, USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), and Naval Surface Force Atlantic.
SURFLANT's Force Master Chief James Williams, along with the selection board, spent the week with the nominees and their families as they attended early morning physical training sessions led by the YMCA, a landing-craft-air-cushion demonstration given by ACU 4, a dinner cruise aboard the Spirit of Norfolk and finally, the announcement breakfast. Williams commended the candidates on their nominations.
"Just being nominated is the major feat, that's the accomplishment," said Williams. "I've told these Sailors here earlier that they've already won just to make it to this level. It's an honor just to make it here, so it doesn't really matter what happens next, these Sailors are the best of the best."
The sea duty finalists were: Electronics Technician 1st Class Michael Lewis, USS Vicksburg (CG 69); Navy Counselor 1st Class Erika Rogers, USS Oak Hill (LSD 51); Fire Controlman 1st Class David Seymore, USS Philippine Sea (CG 58); Information Systems Technician 1st Class Matthew Smith, USS San Jacinto (CG 56); Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Dmitry Spiridonov, USS Underwood (FFG 36); Sonar Technician 1st Class Luis Vargas, USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79); and Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Kyle Walker, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51).
The finalists for shore command were: Machinist's Mate 1st Class Tim Flotkoetter, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic; Operations Specialist 1st Class Jermaine Moore, Afloat Training Group Norfolk; and Operations Specialist 1st Class Shane Sembrat, Assault Craft Unit 4 (ACU 4).
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972, by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, to recognize an individual Sailor who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and ultimately the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within 10 years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve.
SURFLANT's nominees represent over 25,000 Sailors serving in 82 ships and 45 special mission and support commands from Hampton Roads to Mayport, Fla. The Sailor who is selected as the U.S. Fleet Forces Sailor of the Year will be meritoriously advanced to the rank of chief petty officer at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.