SURFPAC's Top Fleet, Shore Sailors Announced

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Elena Velazquez, SURFOR Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) announced the 2008 SURFPAC Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year (SOY) at a banquet at the Hotel Del Coronado Feb. 26. The banquet was sponsored by the Surface Navy Association.

Air Traffic Controller First Class (AW/SW) Alea Creighton was named the Sea SOY and Hospital Corpsmen First Class (SW/AW) James M. Nicholson was named Shore SOY in front of nearly 400 guests, including spouses, command leadership teams, distinguished military guests, and community supporters.

“We are here to celebrate the best of the best,” said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “You make us the greatest Navy in the world. I thank you for what you do and it is noticeable around the world.”

Creighton, the leading petty officer (LPO) for the Operations Department on board USS Tarawa (LHA 1), also served as the Command Drug and Alcohol Program Adviser, Assistant Command Fitness Leader (CFL), and President of the First Class Petty Officer Association.

“It is a blessing and honor to be here,” said Creighton, a Pennsylvania native, “I owe it all to my Sailors who work for me, because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Nicholson, a Florida native, is the LPO for the Medical Department, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Coordinator and CFL for PCU Makin Island (LHD 8). Nicholson helped promote 90% of his junior Sailors and had three of his Sailors selected as Sailor of the Quarter over the past year.

“This is an honor to be able to represent my ship at the Fleet level, and it is a humbling experience to have so many civilians come together to recognize our military,” Nicholson said.

Nine finalists from across SURFPAC spent a week in San Diego, where they were interviewed, observed and judged in areas including military bearing, professional performance and leadership. They and their spouses were also treated to activities including lunch with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, a visit to the San Diego Zoo, and a harbor dinner cruise.

Other finalists were Sonar Technician(SW) Eric Hollenbeck, USS Kidd (DDG 100); Cryptologic Technician(SW) Michael Perno, USS Bunker Hill (CG 52); Quartermaster(SW) Miguel Rosinski, USS Chancellorville (CG 62); Fire Controlman(SW) William Walters, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56); Yeoman(SW) Cherryl Torres, Naval Surface Forces; Storekeeper (SW/AW) Michael Underwood, Beach Master Unit ONE; and Electrician’s Mate(SW) Donovan Williams, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron.

“Having the opportunity to spend time with this year’s SOY finalist was amazing,” said Naval Surface Forces and Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Force Master Chief Eric Page. “I found a common core among them; they are great Sailors doing their job, representing their country and the Navy.”

Page added, “Through their interviews and thought processes, you can clearly see why they’re leaders on the deckplates and why they are here at this level.”

Creighton and Nicholson will now compete in Hawaii against Pacific Fleet nominees vying for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) Shore and Sea Sailor of the Year titles. The sea and shore-based commands of COMPACFLT represent more than 200,000 Sailors. The top COMPACFLT Sea Sailor will be eligible for meritorious promotion to chief petty officer and the Shore SOY will move on to competition in Washington, D.C., for possible designation as the 2008 CNO Shore SOY.