SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A Sailor assigned to Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) 1 in San Diego was recently named as the Association of Minemen's 2014-2015 Mineman of the Year (Sea).
Mineman 1st Class (SW) Steven G. Hassler, who works with the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission package program for littoral combat ships, was named the recipient of the award during the association's annual reunion which was held Oct. 6-8 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Hassler said he was not expecting to receive such recognition for doing his job.
"I was surprised at first," said Hassler. "But then I felt honored and humbled that my chain of command and fellow minemen both past and present felt I had what they were looking for as Mineman of the Year."
Hassler, a native of Wheatland, Wyoming, said wanting to be a part of the latest mine warfare technology is what brought him into the LCS program.
"I really like the concept of being a detachment that could be deployable to anywhere in the world and embark the two newest class of ships and use all the new mine warfare equipment," said Hassler. "I also liked the idea that I would be able to be on the ground floor of introducing new technology that was going to be the future of mine warfare and the future for my rate."
According to Hassler, the biggest difference in mine warfare aboard an LCS ship is the fact that the ship is completely out of the minefield.
"We are also able to search larger areas in a shorter period of time than an Avenger-class minesweeper," said Hassler. "Right now Avenger-class MCM's have more options to neutralize mines, but the big trade-off is that the system we use on LCS doesn't require our ship to be in the minefield to neutralize mines."
Hassler said he is extremely proud to be a mineman and the mine warfare community is unlike any other community in the Navy.
"We are a rate this is very proud of our heritage and pride ourselves in the fact that by the nature of our rate we become a jack of all trades," said Hassler. "At times our job can be very stressful but because of how small our rate is you learn to trust and rely on your shipmates."
With almost 12 years of active duty service under his belt, Hassler said his next goal is making chief petty officer.
"My secondary goal is to continue to use all the resource the Navy has given me to finish college and get a degree," said Hassler. "But I guess ultimately I would say I had a successful career if I can continue to be a positive role model and mentor to my junior Sailors and help them reach their goals."
Hassler's peers and supervisors praise his many accomplishments at the command.
"A master of his trade, petty officer Hassler is a role model for his peers, superiors and subordinates, as well as the community of San Diego, "said Capt. Randy Garner, the commander of LCSRON 1. "I depend on his knowledge and expertise on all mine warfare systems for successful daily operations and continued advancement of the MCM mission package, paramount to the future of the LCS program and our Navy as a whole."
Garner described Hassler as an irreplaceable asset to the LCS MCM program and an integral leader on the leading edge of mine warfare.
"He is truly an exceptional Sailor, brilliant technician and tactician who is most worthy of the special recognition commensurate with selection as the 2014-2015 Mineman of the Year," said Garner.
However, Hassler wants everyone to know that he didn't win the award on his own.
"The hard work and dedication of everyone in my detachment is what won this award," said Hassler. "I look at this as more of a group award and I just have the honor of picking it up for them."
Established in 1977, the Association of Minemen was founded as a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the records and memories of the U.S. Navy mine warfare forces. Since their creation, the organization's members have dedicated themselves to recognizing the contributions of Navy personnel in the field of mine warfare, holding commemorations and establishing memorials dedicated to the accomplishments of its members.
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