ABILENE, Kan. (NNS) -- Two Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) received the 2019 Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Awards, presented at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, on Oct. 12.
The Abilene-based Eisenhower Foundation sponsors the President Eisenhower and the General Eisenhower Awards annually to honor exceptional Sailors assigned to Ike.
This year, senior leadership aboard the Ike selected Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Aimie Windemiller for the General Eisenhower Award and Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Joshua Roberson for the President Eisenhower Award.
“I felt overwhelmed,” said Roberson. “I didn’t even know I was nominated. I appreciate the recognition, but a leadership award like this is a team effort. Leadership is built on fundamentals. It is when someone believes in you enough to give you the opportunity to lead, and who buys into you enough to allow you to lead them.”
Windemiller also felt the award experience was humbling, and agreed that her individual recognition was the result of her fellow Sailors in the Ike’s combat systems department and cybersecurity division.
"I've never accomplished anything without having dedicated and hard-working Sailors right alongside me," said Windemiller. "My fellow Sailors in cybersecurity bring their ‘A-game’ every single day, and I’m humbled to serve with them.”
Windemiller was awarded the General Eisenhower Leadership Award for her vision, integrity, courage and commitment to her duties. As the Information Systems Security Manager (ISSM) aboard the Ike, she ensured Cyber Security throughout all computer networks, leading her division of 13 Sailors to ensure network integrity and accessibility for the entire ship. Additionally, she served as the Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) Manager, ensuring a command climate of inclusion and effective teamwork.
Roberson was awarded the President Eisenhower Leadership Award for his selfless work in the local community. He has been involved with several youth programs, local Sheriff offices, and local schools to help aid children and the members of his community.
Recently, he has been involved with constructing a haunted house with the proceeds going to a local little league so that more than 100 kids have the opportunity to play sports.
“It’s never been about me,” said Roberson. “It’s been about serving others.”
The award winners travelled to Ike’s hometown for more than recognition. The honor included an embrace from an entire community dedicated to providing full immersion of the Ike’s continued legacy. The weekend involved a visit to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, a local radio station, a lunch with the Abilene Rotary Club, Ike’s boyhood home and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
The Ike Sailors also took part in the presidential wreath laying ceremony on Ike’ gravesite and the ribbon cutting for the rededication of the Eisenhower Museum and Gala.
“The wreath laying ceremony was very impressive,” said Roberson. “I may never experience something like it again. It was very humbling to be a participant. Just to be there was an honor.”
Windemiller said the presidential wreath laying ceremony also deeply impacted her experience in Abilene.
“It was amazing to be able to honor him,” said Windemiller. “Not only his life, but the life of his wife and the child they lost. I was in awe.”
Participating in community activities showed the range of connection Abilene has to American landscape. Almost in contrast to the high honor of a presidential gravesite ceremony, the elementary school visit also impacted both Ike Sailors and students. Roberson and Windemiller spoke about shipboard life and answered questions from the entire school.
"Most of the kids here in Abilene usually stay in the area,” said the Principal of Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, Ethan Gruen. “This is a small town and we are land-locked, so it is rare to see a Sailor. Having Ike Sailors talk to the kids gives them an opportunity to see what they could do one day. It shows they are connected to someone who impacted many people’s lives and they could too one day.”
Another community leader, Mack Teasley, who helped coordinate the tours and site-visits on behalf of Abilene and the Eisenhower Foundation, remarked the impact the visit made on the community.
“To see Sailors from the Ike in our humble town keeps his legacy alive,” said Teasley. “We have hosted award-winners for 10 years now and it is something we look forward to continuing for many years to come.”
Among the many people who recognized the award winners, Command Master Chief Jason Reynolds was proud to honor both chiefs and reward them for this work and dedication to the Navy, Ike and their Sailors.
"Having Senior Windemiller and Chief Roberson in the Ike Chiefs Mess has been incredibly valuable to the success of the ship," said Reynolds. "The level of deckplate leadership they provide, and their level of community involvement and support, is an inspiration to their peers and junior Sailors alike."
Ike’s Commanding Officer Capt. Kyle Higgins spoke at the Gala to acknowledge the achievement of his Sailors and share with Abilene citizens the connected legacy of the ship’s continuation of Eisenhower’s service to his country.
"I'm incredibly proud of both of these Sailors," said Higgins. "Because much like the qualities President Eisenhower lived, these Sailors carry on his legacy of toughness, initiative, integrity and accountability. Senior Chief Windemiller and Chief Roberson represent the best of Ike, and with Sailors like them aboard our mighty ship, we stand ready to answer the nation's call."
For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.