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USS Essex Sailors Selected for Leadership Awards
SASEBO, Japan – Two Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) have been selected for 2009 Navy and Marine Association (NMA) Leadership Awards.

Lt. j.g. Jason Moehlmann and Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Robert Weaver are among four Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 Sailors to be honored with the awards, which are presented annually by Commander, Naval Surface Forces to Sailors who demonstrate exceptional leadership.

“It’s quite an honor to have two Essex Sailors selected for this prestigious award,” said Capt. Troy Hart, Essex commanding officer. “Lt. j.g. Moehlmann and Chief Weaver are both recognized across the deckplates as truly dedicated professionals and inspirational leaders. This award is a testament to the quality of leadership displayed by them on a daily basis and the positive impact they have on their Sailors."

Unlike many traditional awards, Navy and Marine Association Leadership Award candidates are nominated and reviewed by their peers. During the nomination process, Essex Sailors nominated their peer Sailors and Officers in four exclusive categories based on rank. Moehlmann emerged as Essex’s category III candidate, which encompasses the ranks of O-1 through O-3, and Weaver as the ship’s category II candidate, which includes E-7 through E-9.

“It’s pretty awesome, especially not knowing about it before hand,” said Moehlmann, who wasn’t aware of his nomination before the winners were announced. “Knowing that other people on the ship thought that I was deserving and exhibit the qualities of what a leader should be is quite an honor.”

NMA Leadership Awards are a very distinct accomplishment, said Weaver, who pointed out the unique selection process.

“It’s very flattering,” he said. “Any other awards are based on evaluations and scores, but a peer-nominated award carries so much more meaning to it.” 

Both recipients fulfill vastly different roles aboard Essex. Moehlmann serves as a Division Officer in the Engineering Department and spends much of his time in the depths of the ship’s infrastructure, working with generators, boilers, and propulsion equipment.

On the other hand, Weaver is the Leading Chief Petty Officer for Weapons Department’s flight deck Ordnance Division and spends much of his time in the open air on the flight deck, ensuring Essex’s air assets are properly armed to complete their missions. Despite these differences, they both share similar roles and philosophies as leaders. Both men stressed the importance of trusting and relying on the Sailors that work for them, regardless of their rank or experience.

“Communication up and down the chain is very important,” Moehlmann said. “For example, I rely on our Chiefs for a lot of things. I know I can trust they’ll get the job done because we have open communication. Everyone in the chain knows what’s going on.”

Weaver is directly in charge of 48 Sailors, many of which he credits for his NMA award selection.

“A lot of really great Sailors led to this,” said Weaver. “We have a lot of outstanding Sailors who have performed time and time again and their efforts are very important.”

One of those Sailors is Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Zuleika Vicioso, of Marathon, Fla., who has worked for Weaver for the past year. Vicioso said Weaver is responsible for much of her success aboard Essex.

“You tell him something and he listens,” she said. “He’s not a person who is just going to tell you to get to work. He hears what junior ranks are trying to say and he tries to make a difference.”

Listening to junior Sailors not only contributed to his NMA Leadership Award selection, but is crucial to being a good leader, said Moehlmann.

“You really have to trust people up and down the chain of command and always approach things with an open mind,” said Moehlmann. “You can learn things from the most junior Sailor on the ship, and it’s important to remember that everyone’s opinion does count.”

Moehlmann and Weaver will be presented their awards on board Essex later this year.

Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan.
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