GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Musician 1st Class Zachary Ellerbrook was recently named the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) Senior Sailor of the Year (SOY).
Ellerbrook, 43, a native of Edwardsville, Illinois, and a member of Navy Band Great Lakes (Illinois) participated in a rigorous evaluation process that took into consideration characteristics such as professional knowledge, military bearing, teamwork, education and professional development. He also had to provide an oral presentation when interviewed by a selection board.
“The Sailor of the Year and Military Instructor of the Year programs are a great opportunity for command leadership to recognize their best when it comes to their Sailors and the outstanding work that they are accomplishing. As it is every year, the competition was very tight and every candidate nominated was worthy of selection,” said NSTC Command Master Chief Jimmy Hailey, III.
“I am very proud of MU1 Ellerbrook for being named NSTC SOY,” said Master Chief Musician Jason Gromacki, senior enlisted leader for the band. “He has done a lot of hard work and continues to contribute to the command on a daily basis. I’m grateful to NSTC for having a program to recognize Sailors and appreciate all of their support.”
Ellerbrook said he was grateful being named NSTC’s Senior SOY recipient.
“It’s a great honor to represent Naval Service Training Command,” the married father of four said. “This is special because of the time I’ve spent here. Being my second tour (with Navy Band Great Lakes), I have great admiration and respect for the people here, both on base and off.”
During his current tour, Ellerbrook is leading petty officer for the band. He also performs on the trombone and bass trombone with the Ceremonial Band, Parade Band, Wind Ensemble, and Popular Music Group, “Horizon”.
“I can’t answer to exactly what had me selected,” the 17-year Navy veteran said. “I strive to perform my assigned duties to the best of my ability, as well as look for other ways I can contribute to the command and the area.”
NSTC, headquartered on Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, is the administrative command for Navy Band Great Lakes. The training command also supports and oversees Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp also at Naval Station Great Lakes, where more than 39,000 enlisted recruits begin their Navy careers.
Ellerbrook said being a Navy musician in a training command with enlisted RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) also in the running for senior SOY makes the recognition extra special.
“We have a multitude of talented petty officer first classes all across the NSTC domain. I’m sure it was a difficult decision given the various accomplishments, assignments, and experiences throughout the command.”
Ellerbrook said he enjoys being a member of the “Ambassadors to the Midwest” and being part of the legacy formed by John Phillip Sousa, known as “The American March King” and the Father of Navy Band Great Lakes in the early 1900s.
“My primary job is not just to be a musician, but to communicate the message of the United States Navy and NSTC through music,” he said. “It is a great honor to be in “Sousa’s Band” not just because of his fame, but because of the thousands of musicians he trained right here.”
The NSTC Junior Sailor of the Year (JSOY) is Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Jenna Fearheiley, an RDC at RTC.
“Upon finding out that I was nominated for JSOQ for the 4th quarter already seemed like such an honor and achievement,” Fearheiley, 30, from Mt. Carmel, Illinois, said. “When told by my LCPO (Leading Chief Petty Officer), ABECS (Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Launching and Recovery Equipment) Durdle (Eric), and ‘when I won, not IF’ I would immediately be competing for (RTC) JSOY. When I sat back and thought about the people I would be up against, I didn’t feel that I even compared. So, going into my board, again, I thought it was a nice gesture to have been nominated again. I did the best I could in the board, but wasn’t holding my breath for the results.”
Fearheiley said the evening the (RTC JSOY) results were posted she was sending off recruits from her seventh (recruit division) push onto their next journey. “I was ecstatic! I had never won anything, not even BINGO at the local American Legion. On Monday morning, Senior called me back into his office and said, “the next step is NSTC Junior SOY”, and again I was nervous. Being someone who will always be harder on myself than anyone else will, I thought, ‘sheesh I don’t know about this next one for sure.’ I resubmitted an updated package and sure enough, I had achieved JSOY for the next echelon (NSTC). I was teaching my eighth division an anti-terrorism class when the results came out and my coworker ran in and said, “You won!” I ran over to him and welcomed his cheers, and the rest is history.”
The NSTC Bluejacket of the Year (BJOY) is Musician 3rd Class Jason Paige, 32, from Houston, and a clarinet instrumentalist, music librarian and fiscal assistant for Navy Band Great Lakes.
“I was certainly honored and flattered to be selected as BJOY 2019,” he said. “To me, this shows that hard work and dedication to the job can be rewarding in more ways than one. I really love being in the Navy and I come to work each morning with a big smile on my face because I know that I get to follow my greatest passion while serving my country. That in itself is highly rewarding. I hope that I can set an example for future Sailors and show that anyone can go beyond their call of duty.”
NSTC is commanded by Rear Adm. Jamie Sands who, along with his headquarters staff at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, supports 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development program. NSTC’s support includes RTC; the Naval Reserve Officers Training Command (NROTC) program at more than 160 colleges and universities; Officer Training Command (OTC) at Newport, Rhode Island; and the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
“Pride in Service" has been the theme for Navy Band Great Lakes for more than a century. From 1911, when the band first formed, to 1917, when Lt. Cmdr. John Philip Sousa served as bandmaster, to today's director, Navy Band Great Lakes music represents the pride and professionalism that is synonymous with the United States Navy.
Serving the commander of NSTC’s mission of transforming volunteers into 21st century Sea Warriors, Navy Band Great Lakes performs ceremonies to honor recruits, Sailors, and their families weekly during the Pass-In-Review (PIR) recruit graduation at RTC Great Lakes, the Navy’s only boot camp. Also, as the Navy’s “Ambassadors to the Midwest,” Navy Band Great Lakes performs for hundreds of thousands yearly. They provide musical support for communities of all sizes as well as supporting U. S. Navy recruiting in a nine state area of responsibility stretching from North Dakota to Michigan and every Midwestern state in between.
For additional information about Navy Band Great Lakes, please visit us on the World Wide Web (https://www.public.navy.mil/netc/NSTC/navyband/index.aspx), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NavyBandGreatLakes?fref=photo), or on YouTube.
RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as “boot camp” or “recruit training” and has been in operation at Great Lakes since 1911. Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States 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. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is now the Navy’s only basic training location, and is known as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy.” Today, more than 39,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
For more information about RTC, the Navy’s only boot camp visit http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/. Or find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NavyRecruitTrainingCommand/.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit https://www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.