SAN DIEGO – A boatswain’s mate serving aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) has been named as the ship’s 2014 Bluejacket of the Year.
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (SW) Kyle P. Kerley, a native of Ft. Davis, Texas, received the annual award which is presented to a Spruance Sailor in paygrades E-4 and below who exemplifies consistent high performance and a positive attitude toward the Navy and his or her shipmates.
“We do a lot of the grunt work on the ship,” said Kerley, who joined the crew of Spruance as an undesignated seaman. “But, we are also responsible for some really important and dangerous evolutions.”
According to Kerley, it is his job to get the boat in and out of the water safely during small boat operations. When conducting underway replenishments, while everyone is focusing on driving the ship, there are two boatswain’s mates ensuring the safe execution of transferring thousands of gallons of fuel and hundreds of pounds of equipment and food.
“I’m 6’2”, when we do flight operations, the rotor clearance is only seven feet,” said Kerley. “The trust and confidence you put in a flight crew you don’t know, your training, and the pilot house is incredible. It is those moments that really make this job so special.”
In addition to his normal duties, Kerley has taken on the role as one of the ship’s three Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmers. His role in this position is critical, as he will be called upon in the event of a life-saving situation. It is the SAR swimmer who will deploy into the water to rescue a shipmate or mariner who has fallen overboard and, if needed, conduct life-saving techniques like CPR.
According to the ship’s leadership, there is no one more deserving of this honor this year than Kerley. As leading deck seaman, he proved himself as an indispensable individual and is always one step ahead of his peers. His meticulous work-ethic is unmatched, and in the event he is called upon to conduct SAR operations, his dedication to training will prove invaluable.
Kerley joined the Navy in August 2011. While attending Ft. Davis High School, he was a four sport athlete in basketball, six-man football, baseball, and golf. In his free time, the 21 year-old said enjoys the outdoors and passes the time in the gym and at the pool.
Following the Navy, Kerley said he hopes to attend Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas where he plans on majoring in agriculture.
Spruance is named in honor of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, commander of Task Force 16 at the Battle of Midway in WWII, and leader of many of the pivotal naval battles that won the war in the Pacific.