HONOLULU - Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, announced Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 1st Class Matthew Meadows as 2013 Sea Sailor of the Year (SOY) and Builder 1st Class Deanna Dimeo as the 2013 Shore SOY during a ceremony at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, March 28.
Harris commended all 10 finalists for their teamwork, excellence, integrity and leadership.
"Out of the 100,000 or so Pacific Fleet Sailors, the 10 finalists standing on the stage with me have risen to the top and I for one am truly thankful to have them on our team," Harris said. "They all faced challenges and they've proven themselves well-equipped to meet those challenges."
"They do not accept second-best at anything they put their minds to. They're winners, always have been, always will be. They exemplify the highest standards of service to our nation, at home and abroad, at sea and ashore, in combat and in peace."
For his selection as the 2013 Sea SOY, Meadows, representing Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4, will fly to Washington, D.C, and be meritoriously promoted to chief petty officer. Meadows recognized all of the people that have supported him throughout his career to get him to this point.
"This has been an outstanding opportunity and a very humbling experience," Meadows said. "When I heard my name called I couldn't help but think about all those who helped me to get here, the junior Sailors, chiefs, officers and long years of dedication to those people and what they gave back to me, it's an amazing experience."
Representing Naval Construction Group 1, Dimeo, the 2013 Shore Sailor of the Year will travel to the capital to compete in the Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year competition. Dimeo said she felt honored to be selected.
"It's an incredible feeling to be here and represent my community and my family of Seabees at this level," Dimeo said. "I've been in 11 years and everyone from an E-1 to a master chief have touched me in some way and contributed to where I am today."
The 10 finalists spent the week in Pearl Harbor learning about the rich naval history and heritage of the area with visits to the USS Arizona Memorial, where they honored those Sailors who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor with a wreath-laying ceremony, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. They also spent time networking with each other and speaking to Navy leaders from throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
"The events of Sailor of the Year provided each of these outstanding Sailors a better glimpse into our naval history and heritage," said U.S. Pacific Fleet's Master Chief Marco Ramirez. "The week provided them with better understanding of the area and something they can take back and share with Sailors at their commands." Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Robert Layton agreed. "SOY week has been a very special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I think the biggest thing I have taken away is meeting Sailors from different communities and learning more about heritage and history and the pride that it gives me," Layton said.
Many of Sailors brought their families with them, which gave them a chance to be recognized for all they do. "Having the families here is very important, and to have the chance to honor them is what makes this event even more special," Ramirez said. "They are a big part of the SOY's success and it's nice they are recognized as well."
"I would say that my family has done everything for me to get to this point," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Nicholas Fessler. "I have a very loving wife; I'm here because of the commitment she has to stand next to me through the long hours and hard work."
The Sea Sailor of the Year finalists were Master-at-Arms 1st Class Nicolas Fessler, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6); Equipment Operator 1st Class James McVicar, Underwater Construction Team 2; Electrician's Mate 1st Class Scott Koenig, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN23); and Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Benjamin Pit, SEAL Team 5.
The Shore Sailor of the Year finalists were Machinist's Mate 1st Class James Nelson, Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 Performance Monitoring Team Det. Guam; Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Robert Layton, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jeremiah McArthur, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Jackson (LCS 6); and Cryptologic Technician Technical 1st Class Jessica Villa, Commander, 3rd Fleet.
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.