By Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic Public Affairs
Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT) announced its fiscal year 2017 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year (SOY) during a ceremony at the Carl Brashear Conference Center on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Feb. 9.
Petty Officer First Class Luis Figuroa, from the littoral combat ship USS Detroit (LCS 7), was selected as the Sea SOY and Petty Officer First Class Ronnie Byrd, from Commander, Surface Squadron 14 (SURFRON 14), was selected as the Shore SOY.
Leading up to today's announcement, 12 Sailors competed and participated in boards, leadership events and luncheons.
Rear Adm. Jesse A. Wilson Jr., commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, spoke at the ceremony and recognized their leadership, character and expertise.
"Each one of you should be extremely proud to have been nominated for this prestigious awardâ¦you are the heart and soul of the Atlantic Surface Force. I applaud all of you on your performance and look forward to hearing about the great thing you will continue to do during your careers."
Figuroa and Byrd will now participate in the U.S. Fleet Forces Command SOY competition. The winner of that competition will be meritoriously promoted to the rank of chief petty officer and then compete at the Chief of Naval Operations SOY level.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Four Phillip Brashear, son of the late Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, was the event's guest speaker. He spoke about his love for the Navy and the pride he has in knowing the participants were bearing the legacy of excellence that was so important to his father.
"My father stood for so much," said Brashear. "What these guys are doing here, what they are vying for - to be the best - is something my father did every day of his life. You guys are here proving that point and continuing that legacy."
Sailors who participated and competed for SURFLANT Sea SOY included:
Petty Officer First Class Daniel Cardigan, USS Sentry (MCM 3);
Petty Officer First Class Gabriel Denson, USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81);
Petty Officer First Class Luis Figuroa, USS Detroit (LCS 7);
Petty Officer First Class Michael Mills, USS Bataan (LHD 5);
Petty Officer First Class Aaron Smith, USS Ramage (DDG 61); and
Petty Officer First Class Toni Walker, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20)
Sailors who participated and competed for SURFLANT Shore SOY included:
Petty Officer First Class Ronnie Byrd, Commander Surface Squadron 14 (DESRON 14);
Petty Officer First Class Krystal Byrd, USS San Antonio (LPD 7);
Petty Officer First Class Sarina Celaya, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron Two (LCSRON 2);
Petty Officer First Class Love Harris, Commander, Surface Squadron Five (DESRON 5);
Petty Officer First Class Renaldo Jenks, SURFLANT; and Petty Officer First Class Cory McIntyre, Afloat Training Group (ATG)
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972 by 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, in the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within 10 years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include shore commands.