Each year, Sailors from commands throughout Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) compete for the titles of SURFPAC Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year (SOY). This year’s winners were announced during a banquet at the Admiral Kidd Catering and Conference Center in San Diego, Feb. 12.
The annual competition began with SOYs from 117 commands within SURFPAC but only eight were selected as finalists to participate in SOY week and ultimately be crowned SURFPAC SOY. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Corey Smith, assigned to USS Essex (LHD 2), was named the Sea SOY, and Yeoman 1st Class John Singleton, Jr., assigned to Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific, was named Shore SOY.
Spouses, leaders from the candidate’s commands, distinguished military guests and community supporters attended the event, sponsored by the Surface Navy Association, with the single purpose of honoring the hard work and dedication of the Senior Sailors of the Year for SURFPAC sea and shore commands, and to name the ultimate winners.
Born in 1979 in Jackson, Miss., Smith enlisted in the Navy in May 2006 and reported February 2008 to his first duty station was at Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla. His sea tours include an individual augment assignment to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Essex where his is currently serving as Medical Department’s Leading Petty Officer.
“To be selected here tonight, it just makes me want to thank everyone who invested in me on the way,” said Smith. “Their constant guidance and mentorship helped me be successful. I owe it all to them and to my crew that I work with. I wish they could be here with me to see this.”
Born in 1976 in Pass Christian, Miss., Singleton enlisted in the Navy in January 2003 and reported to his first command, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Ca. in May 2003. His shore tours include, Commander, Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific where he is currently assigned as the Command Career Counselor.
“This whole week was amazing,” said Singleton. “It isn’t something I ever thought would happen to me. I was just being a hard worker to provide for my family. Everyone who’s been in my life: chiefs, shipmates, my command; I accept this on behalf of all of them, because they got me where I am right now.”
Throughout the week, the eight finalists took part in interviews by chief petty officers, command events and a series of community outreach activities, which included meeting with Pearl Harbor survivors, a visit to USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Zoo. They also had the opportunity to attended professional development sessions at SURFPAC headquarters.
“Sailor of the Year week is important because it allows us to recognize our best and brightest first class petty officers from every command within Naval Surface Forces Pacific Fleet, and this week has been amazing,” said COMNAVSURFPAC Force Master Chief Jason Wallis. “It seems every year the candidates become smarter, more professional and more well-rounded first class petty officers, all of which are ready to make the next step to become chief petty officer.”
Smith and Singleton will now go to Hawaii to compete against Pacific Fleet nominees vying for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) Shore and Sea SOY 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 2015 Chief of Naval Operations Shore SOY.