GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Seaman Recruit Andrew Woods, Division 322, graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, earning the Military Excellence Award on September 6.
Woods, from Ferrisburgh, Vermont, said he joined the Navy to be a part of something greater than himself.
“Being part of a competitive team that is constantly pushing itself forward to succeed is very fulfilling,” Woods said. “The Navy is that team. Through training, leadership, and the support of our nation we are the best in the world. I joined to be a part of that.”
Woods, 18, is a 2019 graduate of Vergennes Union High School in Vergennes, Vermont, where he participated in varsity indoor track and lacrosse. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, serving as a 3rd Class Petty Officer with the Adirondack Battalion in Fort Edward, New York.
Woods is assigned the rate of Interior Communications Electrician.
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 him at the pinnacle of today’s newest Sailors. Woods is awarded a flag letter of commendation.
A surprised Woods honored his shipmates in winning the MEA.
“When I first learned that I had received this award, I honestly couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Winning the MEA is as much of an award to my shipmates as it is my own. RTC does not give something like this to recruits from a sloppy division. I do carry it, but it is a team award and without my team behind me, pushing me forward, I wouldn’t have it at all.”
Woods credited his Recruit Division Commanders, Ship Serviceman 1st Class Walter Malone, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Chanel Calpitotakao, and Engineman 2nd Class Elpidio Negron for their leadership and guidance.
“All three of my RDCs were incredibly motivating throughout boot camp,” Woods said. “My 1st RDC in particular, SH1 Malone, always told us ‘do your job.’ He wanted me and my division to stay focused to the task at hand and not bog ourselves down with things that were irrelevant.”
Woods said the hardest part of boot camp was being away from home.
“Not being able to talk to my family or friends when I wanted to brought me down a lot early in training,” he said. “Letters and phone calls only come around every so often. My shipmates were the ones who really helped me overcome this challenge. Having friends to talk to who are going through the same thing makes it easier. We became a family for each other when we all needed one.”
After graduation, Woods will attend “A” School at the Center for Surface Combat Systems in Great Lakes. Interior Communications Electricians direct and coordinate the installation, maintenance and repair of interior communications systems on ships and at shore facilities. These systems include communication systems, indicating and navigation systems, visual landing aids for aircraft, alarm, safety, and warning systems.
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. More than 35,000 recruits are trained annually at RTC and begin their Navy careers.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.