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Oak Harbor Navy League, Rotary honor sailors, Marine of the year
The Oak Harbor Area Council of the Navy League and the Oak Harbor Rotary Club joined forces Friday to honor the best of the best at the groups’ 39th annual Sailor and Marine of the Year awards.
At a ceremony held at the Officers’ Club on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Naval Aircrewman Mechanical 1st Class David Smith, Cryptologic Technician Technical 1st Class Stephanie Henning and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Albert Goodson were selected the Sea Sailor, Shore Sailor and Marine of the Year, respectively.
“This is our opportunity to recognize the best the Navy and Marine team has to offer and to honor them for the superb job they do,” said Rotary Club President Mike Hakanson. “I can’t think of a better way to honor all their hard work.”
The packed room gathered for the award ceremony included many active duty personnel, community leaders and members of the Navy League and Rotary. State Senator-elect Barbara Bailey, County Commissioner Kelly Emerson, City Councilman Jim Campbell, Oak Harbor Mayor Pro Tem Danny Paggao and County Commissioner-elect Jill Johnson were but a few of the familiar faces in the audience.
NAS Whidbey Island commanding officer Capt. Jay Johnston welcomed those present and commended both organizations for their contributions to Team Whidbey.
To the personnel being honored, Johnston said they represent the epitome of what sailors and Marines should be, adding he was honored to be their base commander.
“This was not an easy decision, but it is well-deserved,” he said. “Please accept my personal congratulations on a job well done.”
“This is just a small way for us to thank them for their exceptional service to our nation and to show our appreciation for the many sacrifices they, and their families, endure in that service,” said Navy League President Jim Slowik.
After the Sea Sailor, Shore Sailor and Marine of the year were announced, they were literally showered with gifts from the community.
Mayor Pro tem Danny Paggao presented the honorees with a proclamation from the city declaring it their day and they received gifts and recognition from several businesses and organizations.
Each of the honorees took a few moments to share their thanks and appreciation.
“I am truly pleased to receive this recognition,” said Goodson, who serves with Marine Air Training Support Group (MATSG) 53.
“We don’t do this for recognition,” said Henning, from Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10, whose hours of volunteer service in the community helped in her selection as Shore Sailor of the Year.
“But thank you for giving us this award,” she said.
“I appreciate all the support I’ve had over the years and I hope I will have the same opportunity to help other sailors the way I was helped,” said Smith, Sea Sailor of the Year from Patrol Squadron 69.
The sailors and Marine of the year were chosen from a large pool of candidates.
The finalists for shore and sea sailor were also recognized. Shore sailor finalists included AT1(AW) Sonny Composano, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit; IT1(IDW/AW) Brandon R. Smith, Naval Information Operations Command; LN1 Shannon Banks, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and AM1(AW) Paul R. Donner, Fleet Readiness Center Northwest.
Sea sailor finalists included CTR1(IDW/NAC) Matthew J. Strauss, Naval Information Operations Command; AME1(AW) Joel Pacleb, Electronic Attack Squadron 136; and PR1(AW/SW) Elton R. Kaler, Fleet Readiness Center Northwest.
Also recognized during the ceremony was program organizer Bob Papadakis, longtime planner of the annual event.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Slowik once again expressed his appreciation to the awardees as well as the thousands of other sailors and Marines.
“We are grateful for all you do to protect our freedom,” he said. “We hold you highest in our regard, always.”