By Suzanne Speight
Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs
Five top Sailors from Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) installations participated in the annual Sailor of the Year (SOY) Week events Nov. 27-30.
CNRSE Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar announced the winner ABH1 Joshua Schmeck from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, at a luncheon Nov. 30.
"Without a doubt, you are the role models that tomorrow's Sailors can follow," said Bolivar.
"You are all winners in my mind, but only one of you can go forward as the Region Sailor of the Year and compete further in the competition."
In addition to Schmeck, the other CNRSE SOY finalists were MA1 Jessica Gallegos of Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; MA1 Jeremy Krieg from Naval Support Activity Charleston, South Carolina; NC1 Jennifer Ringle of Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi; and ABH1 Terrance Wever, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida.
The week included a community service project, receptions, a visit to a technology conference in Orlando, and some competitive events. Throughout the visit, candidates were evaluated for their military bearing, professional performance and leadership skills.
"Even though it is a competition, we're really all working as a team and supporting each other because that's what we learned in CPO 365," Ringle said.
CNRSE Command Master Chief David Twiford said each of the SOY candidates possess all the necessary characteristics to excel in today's Navy.
"It's not an easy task to select just one Sailor to represent CNRSE for the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Sailor of the Year competition because we have such talented folks working throughout the enterprise," he said.
"But the most important thing these Sailors have in common is a shipmate or a supervisor who saw in them the potential for excellence and then led them, mentored them, and inspired them to achieve."
The week kicked off with oral boards led by Twiford and other command master chiefs, in which the Sailors had to think on their feet, answering questions on topics ranging from Navy history, to leadership principles, to personnel management.
"The board was challenging and nerve wracking because you can study everything but you don't know what they are going to ask," said Gallegos.
"At the same time, the simple thought of being here makes me proud, no matter what happens."
Community relations projects are a standing SOY Week tradition. Taking the time to make a difference in the community, the Sailors visited veterans at the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Home in St. Augustine.
"The veterans home visit was really one of the best parts of the week for me," said Schmeck.
"They have great stories of their time in the military, with a totally different perspective from what I experience in the Navy today. They are just happy to see us and we really enjoyed talking with them."
One highlight of the week included the chance to attend the annual Inter-service Industry Training, Simulation, and Education conference (I/ITSEC) conference in Orlando. The largest of its kind, I/ITSEC highlights the latest training and simulation technologies, with an emphasis on the defense industry, such as aviation and battlefield simulators. The Sailors witnessed demonstrations, learned about future capabilities in the training and simulation industry, and attended a presentation by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran.
"I/ITSEC was an unbelievable event," said Wever. "We saw so much technology and different types of training that will impact our future Sailors. Adm. Moran talked about the Sailor 2025 program that will focus on ready, relevant learning."
As the week came to a close, excitement was high as the Sailors prepared for the SOY luncheon. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Navy veteran, was a guest speaker at the luncheon, and he thanked all the Sailors for what they do each day. He spoke about Florida veterans' initiatives and encouraged the Sailors to consider making Florida their permanent home when they leave the service. After the governor spoke, Bolivar announced Schmeck as the winner who would go on to represent the region in the CNIC SOY competition.
A 2002 graduate of Schuylkill High School in Reading, Pennsylvania, Schmeck thanked his family and his command master chief, and all the master chiefs who helped make the selection.
"This week has been an awesome experience," he said.
"I enjoyed meeting all the other candidates. We had a lot in common and I know we will all succeed. I'm humbled and thankful."
Twiford said all the SOY Sailors represent the absolute best of the best. "This week was an opportunity to thank them, listen to what they have to say about how we not only run our installations, but how we execute the CNO's vision for the Navy," he said. "It's also a chance to thank them for their hard work and sacrifice on behalf of the thousands of service members, dependents and Navy civilians that Navy Region is charged to support each day."
CNRSE announces region Sailors of the Year
By Suzanne Speight