MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Afloat Training Group Mayport (ATGM) believes that the future of the Navy lies not only in the Sailors within the Mayport basin, but in the military dependents as well.
As such, the Chief Petty Officers Association at ATGM established the Military Dependent Leadership and Academic Award (MDLAA), in an effort to recognize the best all-around military child dependent throughout the academic year.
The inaugural award ceremony was held Nov. 20, and honored Chase Gardner as not only the first recipient, but as the inspiration behind the award.
"When we brought Chase in for a mock interview, he didn't do well and he knew it," said Junior Ashwood, ATGM's command master chief. "But he took the potential harsh words of the truth and ran with them. He's used it as fuel to become a better student and leader."
Chase, the son of ATGM's Chief Damage Controlman Matthew Carpenter, was struggling academically but had a dream to attend the United States Naval Academy. Members of the chiefs mess worked together to mentor him in an effort to help achieve his goal. Accepting their counsel and guidance, Chase set out on a mission to improve and excel. In one semester, he turned his grades around, joined the varsity football team and made the final preparations for his Eagle Scout certification.
His efforts instilled the mess with a desire to continue mentoring young men and women who, like Chase, are willing to put forth hard work and overcome the inherent challenges of being a military dependent.
"My son had high goals for himself, but I knew that he wasn't putting forth the effort that he needed to reach those goals," said Chief Carpenter. "I can't thank the chiefs mess enough for taking him under their wing and getting him to where he is now. He's made vast improvements and has the full potential of reaching his goals now."
In addition to his academic turn around, Chase has also been actively involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, including Boy Scouts, Connections Club, Interact Club, Mock Trail and Government Club.
The MDLAA was created with the intent of recognizing a military child dependent who displays superb academic ability, exceptional leadership, service in their community, athletic prowess and participation in significant extra-curricular activities.
"I find myself in the unique situation of having a dad and a chief petty officer to guide me," said Gardner. "Through him, I know that if I ever need guidance and mentorship, that the chiefs mess will always keep my course true."
ATGM's chief mess believes that military dependent children face difficult challenges that ordinary civilian children do not, and that those exceptional military children who rise above their challenges and excel, deserve recognition. The award consists of a Certificate of Special Recognition, an engraved plaque and a gift card presented at the MDLAA Recognition Ceremony.
"We intend to extend the award in 2016 to the entire Jacksonville area instead of just within ATG," said Senior Chief Damage Controlman Jason Brown, former president of ATGM's Chief Petty Officers Association. "There are more military dependents who, like Chase, deserve recognition for their hard work, and we're looking forward to the opportunity to make this a regular thing."
For more news from Afloat Training Group Mayport, visit www.navy.mil/local/atgmayport/.