JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Five top Sailors from Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) installations participated in the annual Sailor of the Year (SOY) competition in Jacksonville, Florida, Jan. 7-9.
CNRSE Rear Adm. Gary Mayes congratulated all of the candidates and expressed his pride in each of them before announcing the selection of Master-at-Arms 1st Class Luis A. Rodriguez of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the close of the visit. Mayes praised Rodriguez for being an “absolute difference maker at one of our most challenging installations” and “a highly respected and creative leader.”
In addition to Rodriguez, the other CNRSE SOY finalists were: Master-At-Arms 1st Class William Ferguson of Naval Support Activity Beaufort, South Carolina; Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Robert Leverett of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida; Master-At-Arms 1st Class Christopher Nobles of Naval Air Station New Orleans Joint Reserve Base in Louisiana; and Yeoman 1st Class Porsha Suttle of Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Texas.
“Bringing the top Sailors from the Region together is a way to recognize their accomplishments and shape their continued growth,” said CNRSE Command Master Chief Bill Houlihan. The competition included a visit to veterans at the Clyde E. Lassen State Veteran’s Nursing Home; a breakfast with veterans at the Naval Station Mayport Chief Petty Officers’ Club; a photo by The Lone Sailor – a statue that represents the men and women who have served, are serving, or will serve; a luncheon; and some healthy competition at oral boards. Throughout the visit, candidates were evaluated for their military bearing, professional performance and leadership skills.
“I believe their interaction with veterans this week will have a profound impact on them the rest of their careers,” Houlihan said.
Each of the Sailors expressed appreciation for the veteran events. Ferguson was impressed with the humble way the veterans carried themselves and noted that the events of SOY week connected the competitors to the Navy’s past. “At some point, we will all be veterans. It is important to be able to reach back and say thank you for leaving that legacy that we need to work diligently to uphold,” he said.
Suttle was thrilled to have been able to meet a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) at the veteran’s home and expressed her gratitude for how she paved the way for women’s service in the military.
“One of the interesting things I took away was that the veteran community doesn’t just limit itself to veterans,” said Rodriguez, the CNRSE SOY. “I spoke to many people at the veteran breakfast who never served themselves, but their fathers, mothers or brothers had, and they were supporting the community. It was great to see that support doesn’t just stop when military service does, and that it extends to our family members as well.”
For Leverett, the best part was, “Getting to know these Sailors and realizing how close we have gotten in two, three days really. You wouldn’t think you could build such camaraderie in such a little bit of time, but I feel like we did.”
Immediately after receiving his award from Rear Adm. Mayes, Rodriguez thanked his fellow first classes. “I always looked up to first classes like you. First classes like you keep me going, keep me competitive, keep me trying my best.” He also went on to thank the master chiefs who helped make the selection.
“All five of our finalists are the type of Sailor I want to join our Chiefs’ Mess this September,” Houlihan said. “Each of them has the potential to lead at that level, and I look forward to serving with them as fellow Chiefs.”
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Southeast, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrse/.