Commander, Naval Forces Europe-Africa announced the Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year (SOY) at Naval Support Activity Naples, Feb. 22.
Adm. Bruce Clingan, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, recognized Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Joshua K. Mathison as the Sea SOY, and Yeoman 1st Class Nicholas Wilson as the Shore SOY for 2012.
Mathison, who will now compete for United States Fleet Forces SOY, said he could not have done it without the support of his shipmates and family.
“There are nearly 11,000 sailors in the AOR and they’re all outstanding. It’s like trying to pick the MVP for an all-star game,” said Mathison. “We were represented by what the region embodies. It’s a privilege to get to represent the region, Mount Whitney and my family.”
Mathison, who is assigned to USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), competed against Electronics Technician 1st Class Kara Peterson, assigned to Commander, Naval Forces Europe Detachment Maritime Ashore Support Team.
Wilson, who will compete for the Chief of Naval Operations SOY, said that he agreed that the competition is more about support than personal gain.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Sailors across the AOR,” said Wilson. “It’s about the junior sailors working hard, and also the leadership empowering you so you are able to do the things you need to do to be successful.”
Wilson, who is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, competed against Musician 1st Class Brandon Schoonmaker, assigned to Commander, Naval Forces Europe Band, and Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jason Pavlica, assigned to Naval Criminal Investigative Service Detachment Naples.
“It’s inspiring for the board members to get to meet and spend time with these Sailors,” said U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Fleet Master Chief Joann Ortloff, who has spent the last week with the finalists. “It assures us that we are doing great things and that we have great Sailors. This group is not just a representation of the AOR, they represent the whole Navy.”
The SOY program was established in 1972 by then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and 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.
Naval Today Staff, February 26, 2013; Image: US Navy