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History and Heritage

Honoring Service and Baseball

Navy Chief Wins Inaugural Bob Feller Act of Valor Award

With three warfare pins, numerous qualifications and thousands of volunteer hours documented during his 27 years of naval service, Chief Hospital Corpsman Garth R. A. Sinclair is humbled and honored to be recognized alongside baseball legends Justin Verlander, Yogi Berra, and Bob Feller.

With his continuing dedication to the Navy, his family, his shipmates and his communities, Sinclair was an obvious choice as one of the first recipients of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award.

"To be the no-name in that group is pretty humbling, and I'm OK with that," said Sinclair. "The way I look at it, we're all men; we put our pants on one leg at a time."

Sinclair was born in the small town of Oconomowoc, Wis. and continually moved around the city of Milwaukee while growing up, never staying in the same place for too long.

"That kind of put me in a position where I didn't get to go to the same school for more than two years in a row, so I guess you could say I got prepared for Navy life early," said Sinclair.

In August of 1986, being as prepared as he could be, he enlisted in the Navy as a hospital corpsman and didn't look back.

"I joined the military to get out of Wisconsin for the most part," said Sinclair. "I wanted to see more of the world, and the Navy was the service that was going to give me the opportunity."

After 27 years of service in the Navy, Sinclair has certainly done just that.

"I've really been fortunate to have some great duty stations," said Sinclair.

Among those included are Pearl Harbor, San Diego and his current duty station in Panama City, Fla.

"Pearl Harbor was great," said Sinclair. "That's where I started getting involved in community service, coaching Pee Wee football and basketball, and I really, really enjoyed it. I got really involved in the community out there."

Sinclair's qualifications include naval parachutist and Marine combatant diver. He has been to more than six different commands and has earned six Navy enlisted classification codes.

"Somehow, between those deployments, between time at sea, between training, he's managed to dedicate thousands of off-duty hours to coaching," said Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. "Chief Sinclair demonstrates the dedication of our Sailors, not only in their job of protecting our nation, but also in teaching the next generation of Americans, and making our communities a better place."

"I'm pretty honored, I'm humbled," said Sinclair. "The more I learn about Bob Feller and his life and career, and what the award was established for, I feel pretty humbled that I was chosen to represent his legacy. Just the fact that the award can only be given to a Navy chief, as well as a major league ballplayer and a member of the hall of fame, I know that there are plenty of brother and sister chiefs out there that have worked just as hard as I have that are just as deserving, if not more," added Sinclair. "Being the first one selected, just is a reflection of how great the Chiefs Mess is."

"Bob Feller, he embodied everything that it means to be a Sailor and a chief petty officer in the United States Navy," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens. "He was a man about service, and about sacrifice, and putting others before himself.

"That is what we instill in all of our chief petty officers, that it is about others before it is about ourselves," said Stevens. "And if you read Chief Sinclair's bio, and talk to people who know him, they will tell you, that's who he is."

"After 27 plus years I can tell you that success in the Navy is really based on what you put into it," said Sinclair. "I think every day we get up we have a choice ... to be happy and make a difference or not. I choose to get up and be happy and make a difference, and no matter what comes my way, I always try to do the best that I can."