Valdez Earns Military Excellence Award at Recruit Training Command

Story Number: NNS171207-09Release Date: 12/7/2017 2:12:00 PM
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By Alan Nunn, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Seaman Recruit Kristen Valdez, Division 034, graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command earning the Military Excellence Award on Dec. 8.

Valdez, from El Paso, Texas, said growing up in a military town influenced her decision to join the Navy. El Paso is home to United States Army Post Fort Bliss.

"As a little girl, I had always been drawn to the military life," Valdez said. "The travel opportunities were an added bonus and joining the service provided me with the perfect opportunity to give my family someone to be proud of and look up to."

A graduate of Burges High School in El Paso, Valdez, 18, participated in Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, where she was a captain and company commander. She was also a member of the school band and wrestled, earning a district medal.

Valdez was assigned the rate of Aviation Machinist's Mate.

The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed her at the pinnacle of today's newest Sailors. Valdez is awarded a flag letter of commendation.

During boot camp, Valdez served as a Yeoman, responsible for many of the administrative and clerical tasks of her division. That assignment sharpened her focused on fulfilling all of responsibilities.

"As a divisional Yeoman, I did not get the same amount of training that my fellow shipmates did," Valdez said. "They always had more time to study and practice certain drills than I did, but I never used that as an excuse to fall behind, I held myself to same standard that they were."

Valdez thanked her shipmates for their support and sharing lessons and experiences. She also credited her Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) Chad Linton, Machinist's Mate 1st Class Juliana Gomez and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Zachariah Christensen.

"I know that a lot of my success here has come from how well my shipmates taught me and how much they did to make sure I succeeded," Valdez said. "Petty Officer Gomez taught me a lot of the responsibilities of being a Yeoman. Because of how well she taught me, that is how I structure my work now and one of the reasons I'm so good at being a Yeoman."

After graduation, Valdez will attend Aviation Machinist's Mate 'A' School in Pensacola, Florida. Aviation Machinist's Mates are aircraft engine mechanics. They inspect, adjust, test, repair and overhaul aircraft engines and propellers. They also perform routine maintenance, prepare aircraft for flight and assist in handling aircraft on the ground.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. About 30,000 to 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit

For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit

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