Story by PO1 Tim Comerford on 02/04/2010NORFOLK, Va. -- Capt. George Womack, chief of staff, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic named the region's Sailor of the Year during a ceremony at Naval Weapon Station Earle in Colts Neck, N.J., Jan. 28.
Petty Officer 1st Class Elise Jewett, from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, took home the title of CNRMA SOY from a list of four people who are the best of their respective bases. Petty Officer 1st Class Juan Caro from Naval Weapon Station Earle, Petty Officer 1st Class Jack Coleman from NAS Oceana, Petty Officer 1st Class James Dobson from NSA Norfolk and Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Rink from Naval Station Norfolk.
Jewett completed an Individual Augmentee assignment from April to November last year, acting as Non-commissioned officer in charge of J1 division for combined Joint Special Operations Air Component in Iraq and holds many critical positions in her command.
Jewett was surprised when her name was called as Sailor of the Year.
"I had to think for a second to make sure that I heard it right," Jewett said. "Then one of my shipmates nudged me in the arm. I didn't realize that the captain was looking at me expecting me to walk up next to the podium."
None of them had any forewarning of the choice.
"I had no idea," Jewett said. "The Master Chiefs were very good. There was no hints, no expectation, none of us had any ideas."
The Sailor of the Year Program, created 38 years ago by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, is virtually unchanged from its initial process for selection and recognizes Sailors, of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets and ashore, who best exemplify the oath of enlistment.
"When Admiral Elmo Zumwalt started this program 38 years ago, the Navy, indeed our world, was a different place," said Womack during the ceremony. "But the core principles of being a Sailor and serving in the best Navy in the world remain the same."
Naval Station Norfolk's Command Master Chief sees the Sailor of the Year the same way, as a success story.
"When I hear Sailor of the Year I think excellence - not just in military performance, but in life performance," Said Command Master Chief Gregg Snaza. "A Sailor of the Year is the model for others to emulate."
Jewett is proud of herself.
"I succeeded in the challenges I gave myself with the IA and being away from home in a completely different environment," Jewett said. "I came out of my shell and went beyond my comfort zone to take on the challenge. I enjoyed doing it."
Each of the Sailors accomplishments were impressive.
"The other candidates I was up against were phenomenal individuals and amazing Sailors that I felt deserved it," Jewett said. "I am flattered and humbled. It is nice to be honored."
"It was not an easy decision," Womack said. "I am very proud of each them. We all are. Any one of them could easily represent the region to the next level and I am confident that they would represent us with distinction."
Womack believes that the Sailor of Year is not made in one year but it is a journey that starts when they sign up to become a Sailor.
"Their accomplishments and actions over the last year are notable and what helped them get here ... but more importantly, these Sailors have distinguished themselves among their peers since they took the oath and signed up on day one," Womack said. "Their dedication and leadership over the course of their careers is what got them to the place they are today."
The process of selection for Sailor of the Year begins when ships, stations and commands choose their Sailor for the Year based on professionalism, leadership, dedication and superior performance. The Sailors selected then compete against recipients from other commands at higher and higher levels of leadership until only the Navy's 4 finest remain.