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III MEF hosts SOY awards

By Lance Cpl. Donald Peterson | | February 26, 2014

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa —The 2013 III Marine Expeditionary Force sailors of the year award ceremony and luncheon was held Feb. 7 at the Ocean Breeze on Camp Foster.

“The SOY program recognizes sailors who best represent the large number of superior dedicated professionals serving in a particular type of duty as assigned,” said Chief Petty Officer Jonathan L. Kitchen, the leading chief petty officer for 7th Communication Battalion, III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF.

The sailors who were selected for the award were nominated and evaluated by a board of sailors from the Chief Petty Officer Association to recognize the sailors who go above and beyond in their job field.

“The board looks for sustained superior performance not only in their jobs, but in collateral duties and community involvement,” said Kitchen.

“The SOY candidate is typified by a history of sustained superior performance, command impact, mission contribution, proven leadership, dedication to self-improvement, outstanding professionalism, superior personal appearance, and epitomizes the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment.”

Three sailors are chosen from major subordinate commands within III MEF as SOY. These sailors are selected for one of three categories: bluejacket of the year for paygrades E-1 through E-3, junior sailor of the year for E-4 through E-5, and senior sailor of the year for E-6.

“These sailors which are recognized aren’t just the best in their section, but the best throughout III MEF,” said Chief Petty Officer Arkadiusz J. Olszewski, the president of the Chief Petty Officers Association. “They are part of the top one percent of enlisted Navy personnel.”

The 2013 III MEF SOY winners are: Bluejacket of the Year Petty Officer 3rd Class Miles Miller with Headquarters Company, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF; Junior Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Diego Zepedacarillo with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF; Senior Sailor of the Year Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph De La Cruz with Marine Wing Support
Squadron 172, MAG-36, 1st MAW, III MEF.

“These sailors have showed exemplary work,” said III MEF Command Master Chief Eric S. Anderson. “They are the future leaders and role models for the sailors in the future. They are also the backbone for the Navy.”

During the ceremony, each individual winner was recognized for his or her respective achievements for their parent command. The overall III MEF winners were awarded a plaque and coin.

“It’s a great pleasure to be a winner for the sailor of the year,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Alejandro M. Bradley, a nominee and construction engineer with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “However, we wouldn’t be
recognized or even selected for such a title if it wasn’t for the junior sailors being so amazing and making us look good, and if it wasn’t for our superiors who are our role models.”

The III MEF senior sailor of the year will now compete at the Marine Corps Forces Pacific-level in Hawaii, according to Olszewski. If he wins he will go on to compete at the Pacific Fleet-level for the title of Pacific Fleet sea sailor of the year and the opportunity to be meritoriously promoted to chief petty officer.
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