PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- More than 120 Sailors and civilians gathered at the Banyans aboard Naval Station Pearl Harbor July 16 for the second annual Surface Navy Association award luncheon. Six Sailors were awarded for their outstanding performance during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to Capt. David Armitage, commander, Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific, this year's awards were well deserved. Sailors nominated for awards belong to ships homeported in Pearl Harbor that recently returned home from deployment. Armitage organized the luncheon and said he was happy to be part of the process.
"I always like doing this," said Armitage. "A lot of the things these Sailors do goes unrecognized, and it is nice to be part of something that acknowledges them."
The special guest speaker for the luncheon, Adm. Walter F. Doran, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, spoke to Sailors and expressed his gratitude for their hard work and his congratulations to the Sailors that were nominated.
The Tribute to Freedom awards were the first awards to be presented. They went to enlisted personnel E-6 and below and consisted of a $200 gift certificate and a weekend stay at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott, an Outrigger Resort hotel on the big island of Hawaii. Doran presented the Sailors with their awards. The winners for the awards were: Electrician's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Michael Wong from USS Crommelin (FFG 37), Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Gregory Herrod from USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Dennis McGinn from USS Reuben James (FFG 57) and Mess Management Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Genaro Deuz from Destroyer Squadron 31. The Sailors selected seemed overjoyed as they received their awards. Wong was humble but gracious in expressing his gratitude for the award.
"This was unexpected," he said. "I can't believe I got this out of 200 shipmates that work just as hard as I do, but it is nice to be singled out."
The next award to be presented was the BMC Harold Estes Leadership Award presented by its namesake - retired Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold Estes. Out of eight nominees for this award, Chief Personnelman (SW/AW) Michael V. Thornburg from USS Hopper (DDG 70) was the recipient. Thornburg was grateful to receive this award, but gave a lot of credit to his shipmates and his wife.
"It is an amazing feeling," said Thornburg. "I am very thankful, but I have to say a lot of credit goes to the people I work with and the support of my wife. You don't just have a strong chief; you have a strong chiefs' mess," he added.
Vice Adm. K.U. Kihune then approached the podium to present his namesake leadership award to the winning junior officer - Lt. Jonathan C. Duffy from USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60). With all of the awards presented, the luncheon came to an end.
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