SAN DIEGO - A Sailor assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) Sailor was named as the Amphibious Squadron One (PHIBRON 1) 2014 Senior Sailor of the Year (SSOY), Dec. 5.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) Mara Gonzales, who has been assigned to New Orleans for the past two years, was announced as the recipient of the prestigious award during an awards ceremony held aboard the ship. Gonzales had been previously selected as the ship’s SSOY.
“My department, my shipmates, my mentors, and teamwork got me here,” said Gonzales. “In all reality the way this command operates is what got me here. If it wasn’t for the deployments, the duty, and the people, I wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity to be in the position I am today.”
Gonzales was born and raised in Concepcion, Philippines and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Her prior duty assignments include Navy Medical Center Portsmouth in Portsmouth, Virginia; Naval Branch Health Clinic Bahrain; Naval Branch Health Clinic in Little Creek, Virginia, and Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois.
“Gonzales is a shining example of the hard working professionals that serve aboard New Orleans,” said Capt. Douglas Verissimo, the commanding officer of New Orleans. “Her dedication to her shipmates and the wellbeing of New Orleans is why we are honored to have her represent us as she moves through the competition.”
Gonzales actively involves herself with both New Orleans and her homeport, Naval Base San Diego, as a Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response representative. She said she dedicates time outside her rate as a command fitness leader and as a board member for the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Program.
Gonzales spoke of one of her most notable advantages as command SSOY.
“When you’re honored by your command before all the Sailors, especially the junior Sailors, it lends you a platform to be able to speak to them,” said Gonzales. “There are so many Sailors that want guidance, and being SSOY offers a way to help, guide, and encourage them to reach their own goals.”
Gonzales is often asked by fellow first class petty officers and junior Sailors alike on how to prepare themselves for boards.
“Always be prepared,” said Gonzales. “You never know when you will get nominated so carry yourself as if you were already selected.”
Gonzalez will next participate in the competition for the Expeditionary Strike Group Three (ESG 3) SSOY title.
New Orleans’ command leadership also recognized three other Sailors this month: Gunners Mate 2nd Class Haley Kurkowski as the Sailor of the Year; Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Christopher Rossmeisl was selected for Junior Sailor of the Year; and Fireman Joseph Harris was selected for Blue Jacket of the Year.
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