WASHINGTON (NNS) (NNS) -- The 2016 Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year was announced during a ceremony at the United States Navy Memorial April 6.
Naval Aircrewman (tactical helicopter) 1st Class (NAC/AW/SW) Mark Brown was announced as the winner during the ceremony by Chief of Navy Reserve (CNR), Vice Adm. Luke McCollum.
"Candidates, I would tell you, this may have been fun for you, but for me personally it was inspirational," said McCollum during the presentation. "You know you're all winners, but we only can pick one."
Brown, assigned to Naval Reserve Mobile Tactical Operations Center Detachment 273 at Naval Operations Support Center, Detroit, was selected out of five finalists. The finalist came from various backgrounds across the force, and included Machinist's Mate, Nuclear 1st Class (SS) Michael Demercado, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron 1 in San Diego, California; Master-at-Arms 1st Class (EXW) Jason Guthrie, assigned to SEAL Team 17 in San Diego, California; Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class (AW/SW) Robert Johnson, assigned to Fighter Squadron Composite Twelve at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia and Master-at-Arms 1st Class Thomas Lubawski, assigned to Naval Security Forces Annapolis with Navy Operational Support Center, Baltimore.
The announcement is the culmination of a week long recognition event including a two-mile monument run on the National Mall; a tour of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol buildings and several receptions provided by organizations that support the Navy Reserve. The finalists also met with the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and other senior military leaders.
Navy Reserve Force Master Chief C.J. Mitchell presided over the event and the board- selection process that determined the nominee.
"These are truly the best of the best," Mitchell said. "These five Sailors represent almost 31,000 junior Sailors and more than 8,500 1st class petty officers."
"In their interviews with the master chiefs they all spoke eloquently and passionately about how much they care about their shipmates and their chiefs," said Mitchell. "They value communication, training, loyalty and being ethical leaders that want to be even better. I cannot say it enough - they were impressive."
Each of the finalists received Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals during the ceremony. Brown will return to the Navy Memorial next month for the Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year week to be meritoriously advanced to chief petty officer.
The event was a humbling experience for Brown. "It's been an incredible journey and I've made some lifelong friends," he said. "These guys are high-caliber Sailors, and I can't believe I'm sitting here next to them," said Brown.
McCollum who took the reigns as CNR in September said the ceremony was one of the most enjoyable he has ever done. "This is a highlight for me," said McCollum. "I started this job in September, and this is sort of the moment when you really get visualization on what this is all really about - our people."
The events of the week were designed to provide more than the ceremony itself according to Mitchell. "We do this week as celebration and recognition, but also as a symbol of our gratitude for their outstanding service," said Mitchell.
Mitchell ended his remarks at the ceremony by presenting the finalists to CNR. "Vice Adm. McCollum, our future is bright," Mitchell said. "With Sailors like these, we have leaders that will continue to make the Navy Reserve the outstanding organization that is under your leadership."
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Jack Whittet initiated the Sailor of the Year program in 1972 to recognize outstanding Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors. The program was later expanded to honor the top Shore and Reserve Force Sailors of the Year.
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