SAN DIEGO –
The commanding officer of the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) announced the 2014 Sailor of the Year (SOY), Junior Sailor of the Year (JSOY), and Bluejacket of the Year (BJOY) award recipients during the ship’s holiday party in San Diego, Dec. 12.
Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Ronald Swift, a native of Chicago, was selected as SOY. Fire Controlman 2nd Class Nicole Sivley, from Las Vegas, was awarded JSOY honors and Damage Control Fireman Nicholas Hicks, from Fauquire County, Virginia, was selected as BJOY.
All three Sailors were presented a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and award plaque by Cmdr. K.D. Sanders, the ship’s commanding officer, during the holiday party.
“Being selected as SOY, I felt overwhelmed,” said Swift. “I believe that I made it by stepping outside of the box. Even though I'm an engineer, I am qualified all the way up to ATTWO [Anti-terrorism Tactical Watch Officer], obtained my MOVSM [Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal] and completed numerous college courses.”
All three Sailors were previous Sailor of the Quarter recipients in their respective paygrades during 2014. They were nominated by their chain of commands to go in front of a board of chiefs or first class petty officers who select the best candidate based on leadership, professionalism, dedication, and superior performance.
“The board process was intense. You have all of the department LCPO's asking you questions with a dead stare, waiting on you to get nervous,” said Swift. “I just went back to the basics with what I've learned from boot camp until the present day.”
While leading three work centers as auxiliaries division leading petty officer on board Pearl Harbor, Swift completed 200 work authorization forms during the ship’s extended docking phased maintenance availability in 2014.
As engineering department career counselor, he coordinated more than 180 career development boards, 35 reenlistments, 28 rating conversions, and helped to achieve an 80% advancement rate leading to the ship receiving the Retention Excellence Award for both 2013 and 2014.
Additionally, he skillfully supervised two personnel in securing flooding in auxiliary machinery room number two preventing significant loss to equipment and man-hours.
“I plan to keep up my SOY qualities by doing what is right at all time and taking care of the ship and my shipmates,” said Swift. “Though, I was more excited for FC2 Sivley being selected as JSOY and DC3 Hicks being selected for Bluejacket. Those guys really deserved it.”
During her JSOY board, Sivley said her first class shipmates asked a range of questions that included naval history, basic military requirements, and leadership.
“The board and interview process was hands down the most stressful thing I've had to endure in my naval career,” said Sivley. “Being so closely critiqued by my superiors and friends was nerve racking.”
Sivley said she was surprised to be named recipient of the award.
“I was both relieved and elated the day the CO [commanding officer] announced the Sailors of the year,” said Sivley. “Never in a million years did I think or expect to be chosen.”
Sivley serves as the operations department weapons division close-in weapons system (CIWS) technician and work center supervisor. She led 21 maintenance personnel and oversaw the completion of more than 500 maintenance checks, 50 equipment validations, 35 spot checks, and four administrative effectiveness reviews which greatly contributed to the division’s equipment readiness.
She was also instrumental in safe and timely ammunition handling evolutions during Pearl Harbor's off load at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. Soon afterward she led six Sailors in the removal of ammunition valued at more than $5 million including 42 rolling airframe missiles, 36 pallets of shipboard ammunition, and 136 chaff rounds.
“My plan for the future is to continue doing the best I can to be a role model for junior Sailors to emulate,” said Sivley.
One of those junior Sailors was Hicks, the Bluejacket of the Year winner who was announced last by the commanding officer.
“I was humbled that out of everybody, even those who helped developed me into the Sailor I am today, I was lucky enough someone saw potential in me,” said Hicks.
As a repair division maintenance person, Hicks qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist, completed his U.S. Military Apprentice Program (USMAP) firefighter certification, conducted 200 hours of damage control training and completed more than 1,000 maintenance checks saving the Navy more than $50k in repair costs.
His in-depth knowledge of damage control systems was the key to the qualification of 74 damage control watch standers, increasing overall shipboard damage control readiness.
“Since I have become BJOY it has reinforced everything I have worked for,” said Hicks. “Whenever I have a day where I don't feel like shining my boots or staying late for PQS training, I remind myself that it's not just about me anymore.”
Hicks said that each day he strives to learn everything he can to help others, just as people helped him along the way.
“Sometimes just showing someone you are there for them and taking the time to help them affects them more than we think,” said Hicks.
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