Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 1st Class Kody Sims, assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Five Five (VR-55), Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif., was selected from three finalists as the fiscal year 2020’s top Reserve enlisted Sailor.
Sims, a Marianna Florida, native, was joined by Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ronnie Heen, assigned to Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, during the 2020 RSOY week which was held virtually from May 3 to May 7 and culminated in the winner’s selection during a virtual ceremony. The third nominee, Naval Air Crewman Tactical Helicopter 1st Class Calder Epes, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Four One, was removed from the competition after he was selected for Officer Candidate School and will go on to receive his commission at a later date.
The ceremony streamed live from the Navy Museum on board the Navy Yard where Mustin and Kotz were joined by the master of ceremonies, 2019 Reserve Sailor of the Year, Chief Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) Amanda Rodgers. The nominees and their families joined virtually from their homes to limit travel and crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leading up to the ceremony, Kotz was joined by a team of master chiefs who chaired the virtual board and ultimately made the recommendation to Mustin for the finalist. According to Kotz, the selection was no easy task.
“I cannot stress to you the difficulty it is to measure the absolute excellence of these two Sailors,” Kotz said during his remarks. “I’m so proud of the professionalism, the tenacity, the dedication that our two boards put together to render the final recommendation.”
Following his remarks, Kotz introduced Mustin who reemphasized the excellence of the two finalists, particularly compared to a pool of excellent and dedicated candidates.
“What I want everyone to understand is that we have 12,000 first class petty officers in the Navy Reserve, and we’re selecting one,” Mustin said, minutes before announcing the winner. “We’ve already narrowed it down from a little over a dozen to two. And I can assure you that both of these Sailors have distinguished themselves from thousands of others who are also doing great work around the world, in every theater of the globe, in every moment in time.”
Finally, Mustin announced the winner and after a virtual award presentation, Sims had the opportunity to present his own remarks.
“Every Sailor that I have had an interaction with throughout my career, I’ve been able to pull a positive or constructive piece of insight from, which has ultimately helped me improve,” said Sims after thanking the many leaders and Sailors who had helped him throughout his career. “I feel that is what makes us great as a Navy, the diversity of our people … a diversity that introduces you to new and different ideas that can only guide you to improvement. I am very humbled and excited to accept this selection today, and I
cannot wait to take what I learned through this process back to the fleet and work with the Sailors to become the best Navy Reserve that we can be.”
Sims will be promoted to the rank of chief petty officer during the Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year ceremony at a later date. Heen will be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal by his command for being selected as a finalist in the competition.
Late Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jack Whittet initiated the Sailor of the Year program in 1972 to recognize outstanding Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors. The program was later expanded to honor the top Shore and Reserve Force Sailors of the Year.
For 106 years, the Navy Reserve has been a ready, agile force providing valuable, vital support to the Navy and the Nation. The Ready Reserve Force consists of approximately 48,209 Selected Reserve (SELRES) Sailors, 10,163 Full Time Support (FTS) members, 50,223 Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) members and over 428 civilians. This force of over 100,000 delivers strategic depth and warfighting readiness to the Navy and Marine Corps team, and the Joint Force in times of peace and war.
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