USFFC Announces 2020 Sea And Shore Sailor Of The Year
27 May 2021
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) announced the 2020 USFFC Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year (SOY) in a ceremony at Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., May 27.
Adm. Christopher W. Grady, USFF commander, named Personnel Specialist 1st Class Felicia Oxendine, Carrier Strike Group Ten from Parkton, N.C. as the 2020 Sea SOY and Naval Aircrewman Tactical Helicopter 1st Class Chad Matthews, HMS-40, from Milton, Wash. as the Shore SOY.
“I have long held firm to the belief that our Sailors and our families should be regarded as the center of the universe,” said Grady. "Our legacy as a Navy is defined by a long list of impressive accomplishments by Sailors throughout our proud history. The outstanding Sailors we’re honoring today are no different. It is an indisputable fact that ours is the greatest Navy the world has ever known, and that prestige is directly attributed to our world-class enlisted leaders who form the keel of the Fleet.”
The ceremony focused on the finalists’ sustained superior performance and how they’ve risen to become masters of their craft through technical, managerial, and leadership competency.
The Sea SOY announcement highlighted Oxendine’s major achievements. These included completing two crew certifications for supporting units and ensuring critical manning qualifications for Sailors prior to deployment. As a result, she effectively increased mission and operational readiness.
“I am eternally grateful for this experience and beyond humbled by my selection,” said Oxendine. “I never thought I would have this opportunity in my career. I remember thinking I couldn’t do this because Sailor of the Year boards are so intimidating, and there is no way I would make it or get recognized at that level. However, being recognized as USFF SOY proves that you should never say never or doubt yourself.”
Although he could not attend in-person, Matthews expressed similar sentiments through video teleconference upon earning his title as Shore SOY.
“This process has truly been a humbling experience for me. Being able to represent so many hardworking Sailors is an honor. All Sailors at this level are equally deserving of this recognition, and I am so humbled to be able to represent,” said Matthews.
Matthews demonstrated superb leadership by leading 47 fleet replacement squadron instructors in the safe execution of 5,816 flight hours, 6,361 training events, and flying 728 instructional hours. His operational excellence has ensured the Navy’s ability to fight and win.
For his final remark, Grady expressed how proud and privileged he felt to serve alongside the winners and finalists as they have proven themselves to be the best of the best. He encouraged them to constantly learn and foster continuous improvement in their teams.
“My challenge to you going forward is to foster in those you lead the same ingredients of elite culture so crucial to our success in defense of our nation. It matters more now than at any point in your career thus far,” said Grady.
The ceremony capped off a week of rigorous interviews and team-building events focused on leadership, mentorship, and heritage.
In 1972, the SOY Program only recognized Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors. By 1983, the program had expanded to include shore duty and Navy Reserve Sailors. This year, based on recommendations from a Navy working group of top senior enlisted leaders throughout the Fleet, the Navy updated the SOY program this year to better align with Sailor 2025 initiatives. The update gave many type commanders the authority to select for meritorious promotion their top-performing eligible first class petty officers, effectively expanding the number of SOYs meritoriously advanced from four to 18.
Those Sailors selected for meritorious promotion will complete Chief Petty Officer Initiation prior to advancement later this year.
In this year’s 48th anniversary of SOY, the USFFC sea and shore finalists were chosen from nearly 75,000 and 27,000 enlisted Sailors from across the Fleet’s fighting forces and spanning the entire east coast.
Finalists for Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year
Corpsman 1st Class Chiquanda Williams, Combat Logistics Reg. 27
Corpsman 1st Class Raymond Weeks, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20)
Fire Control Technician 1st Class Christopher Goetz, Naval Forces Europe and Africa
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Latishia Seegars, Carrier Strike Group Four
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Felicia Oxendine, Carrier Strike Group Ten
Yeoman 1st Class Andrew Turner, Naval Munitions Command Detachment Souda Bay, Greece`
Finalists for Fleet Shore Sailor of the Year
Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Bryan Pickett, Navy Information Operations Command Hawaii
Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Jason Fischler, U.S. Fleet Fleet Forces Command Staff
Logistics Specialist 1st Class Dwanise Harris, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron Two
Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 1st Class Chad Matthews, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40
Torpedoman’s Mate 1st Class Raymond Gates, Naval Submarine Support Facility New London