GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Four Sailors were chosen as the 2010 Junior and Sailor of the Year for Commander, Submarine Group Two (CSG2) during an awards banquet in Groton, Conn., Nov. 18.
The winners, who were recognized for their achievements during the past year, were Shore Sailor of the Year: Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class (SW/IUSS) Straaberry Washington, Naval Ocean Processing Facility (NOPF) Dam Neck (Norfolk); Sea Sailor of the Year: Sonar Technician (Submarine) 1st Class (SS) Geoffrey Walker, USS Springfield (SSN 761); Shore Junior Sailor of the Year: Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SW) Gregory Yanase, Naval Ocean Processing Facility (NOPF) Whidbey Island (Norfolk); and Sea Junior Sailor of the Year: Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SS/DV) Kevin Dale, USS Norfolk (SSN 714).
The banquet concluded a week of military and community events consisting of interviews by a panel of Navy chief petty officers, a visit to the Rocky Hill Veterans Home, and a trip to USS Constitution in Boston.
During the banquet, special recognition was given to the four Sailors selected to represent Submarine Group 2 in the Commander, Submarine Forces Sailor of the Year competition.
"Sustained superior performance, deckplate leadership, self-improvement, command and community involvement are all key factors in the selection process," said CSG2 Command Master Chief Raphael Perez. "The Sailors you see here today are clearly the best that the Navy has to offer. It is an honor to be in the presence of this elite group of warriors."
Capt. Frank Lowery, CSG2 chief of staff, was present during many of the social events and had the opportunity to speak with the finalists.
"It's very uplifting," said Lowery. "Every person from every command in Submarine Group 2 who is selected by their commanding officer as the Sailor of the year of the USS Springfield, or the USS Dallas, or the USS Pittsburgh, or New Hampshire or any of our ships; if your captain picked you as his Sailor of the year, that's a huge, huge compliment, and I understand exactly why you got picked."
The winners all expressed enjoyment for the weeklong events and had similar reactions to their accomplishment.
Dale enjoyed his first trip to Groton and was honored to win.
"It's kind of overwhelming," said Dale. "I never expected any of this. I am grateful for everyone that nominated me and just honored to be here representing everyone down in Norfolk."
"I'm excited and I'm honored to be among the best of the best," said Washington.
Yanase said he was surprised by his winning Junior Shore Sailor of the Year.
"I did not expect this," said Yanase. "There were a lot of really good Sailors, so I thought the competition was really tough. I am humbled by the whole experience."
Walker said he was very humbled by his selection.
"It's been a really good experience," said Walker. "I honestly didn't think I was going to be [the Sea Sailor of the Year]. I was really nervous but it was cool just to meet some of the best people around the area and just people who are totally dedicated to the Navy."
Retired Force Master Chief Dean Irwin said he was honored to be the guest speaker for the banquet, his first Navy event that he attended since retiring.
"The one reason I decided to come back to [the] Sailor of the Year event is because it is relevant," said Irwin. "It's truly inspiring, and the cornerstone of our success in the submarine force remains that we recognize our junior Sailors of the year."
Adm. Elmo Zumwalt initiated the Navy-wide Sailor of the Year program in 1972 to recognize the outstanding Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors. The following year, the Shore Sailor of the Year program was introduced.
Sponsored by the chief of Naval operations, the program provides recognition to the Navy's outstanding Sailors through numerous presentations, awards, and meritorious advancement to the next pay grade.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.