SAN DIEGO – An operations specialist assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) has been named the Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 Senior Sailor of the Year (SSOY) for 2014.
Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/IDW) Dajon Kemper, who had been previously named Howard’s SSOY, was selected for the honor from a group of Sailors nominated by all DESRON 23 ships.
Kemper reported on board Howard in May 2013 as a junior first class and immediately filled the role as OI Division leading petty officer. He made a tremendous first impression, earning a reputation as a hard-charging deckplate leader who is always up for a challenge.
Exceeding expectations, he excelled in his divisional role as well as being a pivotal ASTAC [ASW/ASUW Tactical Air Controller]. He accumulated hundreds of hours of aircraft control during deployment contributing to real-world operations in the seventh fleet area of responsibility.
“Hard work and dedication are two phrases I live by,” said Kemper.
It is those two expressions that helped accelerate him to assume the responsibilities as acting leading chief petty officer for OI Division. Later in 2014, he was selected by the command master chief to fill a gapped billet as command career counselor thereby reinvigorating the program.
“I chose OS1 Kemper because Sailors relate to him, they are open and honest with him,” said Howard Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Eric Morgan. “OS1 is able to perform well in CIC as well as provide quality work as command career counselor.”
Kemper said he credits his mentors who have inspired him to always be looking ahead to the next step and to never become complacent.
“I have been lucky to have many influential people in my life who offer their advice and a perspective on whatever situation arises,” said Kemper. “They are who I go to when I need to recalibrate and make adjustments.”
Kemper said he recognizes the importance of mentorship and shows it through his ability to guide those around him.
“I have to perform at a high level to be the role model and set the standard for my junior Sailors,” said Kemper. “I was fortunate to have leaders who did the same for me and others.”
Kemper’s shipmates said they have a lot of faith in his leadership abilities.
“OS1 Kemper teaches me a lot about life in and out of the Navy,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Eron Washington. “He is constantly asking, ‘What are you doing to better yourself?’ He is not just a mentor to me but to several other Sailors as well.”
The ship’s senior leadership said that hard work and dedication has been the underlying foundation of all that Kemper has done for Howard and the Navy.
They said it is his relentless efforts that are spread throughout his duties and responsibilities which earned him the recognition as DESRON 23 and USS Howard SSOY.
Kemper will be recognized for his achievements at this year’s Surface Navy Association’s Sailor of the Year banquet scheduled for Friday, Feb. 20 in San Diego.