From sea to shore: Sailor of the year

U.S. Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year (SOY) finalists, Yeoman 1st Class Mujahideen Alikhan (right), Sonar Technician (Submarine) 1st Class Marquis Perry and Pacific Fleet Master Chief Suz Whitman take a selfie during a barge tour of Pearl Harbor, March 7. U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Brian M. Wilbur

U.S. Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year (SOY) finalists, Yeoman 1st Class Mujahideen Alikhan (right), Sonar Technician (Submarine) 1st Class Marquis Perry and Pacific Fleet Master Chief Suz Whitman take a selfie during a barge tour of Pearl Harbor, March 7.
U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Brian M. Wilbur

MC2 Jeff Troutman

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Hawaii

MC2 Brian Wilbur

PACFLT Public Affairs

First-class petty officers selected as finalists from around Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) gathered at Pearl Harbor for the 2016 Pacific Fleet Sea And Shore Sailor of the Year (SOY), March 4-10.

Throughout the week, the 14 finalists visited historical sites such as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and the USS Arizona Memorial. During their time on the Arizona Memorial, they honored the Sailors who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor with a wreath-laying ceremony.

“It’s always been my goal to give back to the Navy because it has given me so much throughout my career,” said Yeoman 1st Class Mujahideen Alikhan, representing submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39). “Upon arriving in Hawaii and meeting the other SOY candidates, I quickly learned that we all share that mindset and that we’re all motivated to put our Sailors first, and putting them in the best position we can to excel and maximize their potential.”

Additionally, the finalists spent time networking and speaking to Navy leaders from the Pacific Fleet, receiving guidance and wisdom forged by years of shared experience.

“In the Navy, your strength as a team determines the success of the mission,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Laura Godinez, representing the 30th Naval Construction Regiment. “Throughout your career, you learn just how important the strength of each Sailor is to the overall team, and I look forward to taking what I learn this week back to my Sailors to help make us stronger as a whole.”

Chief Hospital Corpsman Corey Smith, the coordinator for this year’s SOY week and the 2015 Sea Sailor of the Year, expressed how his experiences as a prior candidate helped influence his approach to mentoring and leading the 2016 finalists during their week on the island.

“Over the past year, I have been reinvigorated by the Chief Petty Officer 365 program and being around some phenomenal leadership,” Smith said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of this year’s SOY week and to show these Sailors some of the richest naval heritage and history the Pacific has to offer.”

The SOY candidates represent the highest echelons of the Navy’s SOY program, with the winners being announced at a luncheon ceremony in Honolulu, March 10.

One finalist representing the sea-based candidates and one representing the shore-based candidates will be selected as winners. The sea-based winner will fly to Washington, D.C. and be meritoriously promoted to the rank of chief petty officer, while the shore-based winner will next compete in the Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year competition, also in D.C.

Former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet established the SOY program in 1972 to recognize an individual Sailor who best represents the group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and, ultimately, in the Navy.

Within 10 years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.

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