WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy's 2011 Sailors of the Year (SOY) were meritoriously advanced to chief petty officer during a ceremony held at the Navy Memorial, May 17.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert served as guest speaker at the pinning ceremony hosted by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West.
Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Maria E. Johnson, Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year; Master-at-Arms 1st Class Douglas R. Newman, Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year; Steelworker 1st Class Louis F. Salazar, U.S. Pacific Fleet Sailor of the Year; and Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Angela A. Zamora, U.S. Fleet Forces Sailor of the Year, were each presented with chief petty officer appointment letters from the CNO prior to having their anchors pinned to their collars and combination covers placed on their heads.
"Anchors are earned, not given," said West, providing a reminder of the excellence SOYs must demonstrate to reach this level. "These Sailors have taken the hard jobs, proven themselves as professionals, are experts in their rates, have led by example and will continue to mentor the Navy's future ... our Sailors."
Every SOY cited leadership as the biggest learning point in the Navy, along with trust in one's Sailors and integrity.
"Ultimately it is my Sailors who got me here," said Salazar. "But it was my job to provide them guidance, mentorship and leadership."
The week leading up to the pinning ceremony was full of scheduled tours of historic sites, events to honor the SOYs and their families, and a Washington Nationals Game where the SOYs were recognized prior to the game.
"It's almost indescribable," said Newman. "It's an honor. It's very, very humbling, because, at the end of the day, it's not about one person ... it's about the process. It's about motivating other Sailors, and it's about representing my command, my region, and every Sailor in the Navy Reserve."
"The opportunities the Navy provides its Sailors are limitless," said Zamora. "Opportunities are there for everyone, but it is up to each Sailor to seize them."
Greenert highlighted each SOY's accomplishments and the importance of the chief in the Navy. He then charged each of the SOYs to be bold, accountable, and confident as they move forward as chief petty officers.
"I'm going to the Naval Academy this afternoon, and I'm talking to the graduating class," said Greenert. "I'm going to tell them to go find 'the chief.' The chief will be your mentor; the chief will take care of you. I wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for my chiefs."
"Your Sailors will now look to you as the benchmark for success," said West. "Challenge them to be better Sailors and citizens every day, and make the well-being of their families a personal priority."
Families, friends and shipmates traveled from around the world to attend the ceremony to share the highlights of the SOY's accomplishments and achievement on making chief petty officer.
"It is an amazing honor," said Johnson. "I never thought I would make it to this point. It all seems like a dream. You measure who you are, the type of leader you are, by the success of your junior Sailors."
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972, by then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and then-Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, to recognize an individual Sailor who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and ultimately the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within 10 years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.
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