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Top sailors, Marine serve community

Being named Oak Harbor Navy League’s Sailors and Marine of the Year is a hard-earned award presented annually to one sea-duty sailor, one shore-duty sailor, and one Marine, for exceptional service, both to the military and to the community.

This year there’s another common theme among the three recipients. The one woman and two men count on and receive immeasurable support from their spouses, all of whom were on hand Friday at the Navy League’s luncheon at the CPO Club. There the three outstanding examples of military members, as nominated by their individual commands, were awarded the honors.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Richard Mueller, Petty Officer First Class Angelia Jordan, and Marine Corps Sgt. John Clough all consistently go above and beyond the call of duty in service to the community, while keeping up with demanding military duties. Their spouses, Mary Mueller, James Jordan, and Angela Clough, respectively, attest to this.

Every one of the awardees express surprise and excitement in receiving the honor, which can go a long way toward earning strong professional evaluations and promotions. Their spouses talk of great pride.

Richard Mueller

AME1 Richard Mueller is the Oak Harbor Navy League’s 2002 Sea-duty Sailor of the Year. A veteran sailor, with 19-and-a-half years of active duty so far, Mueller has been stationed at various commands at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for the past 15 years. He is currently assigned to the Prowler squadron, VAQ-142.

During the past 15 years, Mueller has had the chance to become deeply involved in volunteer work in Oak Harbor. He’s the assistant district commissioner for Island County Boy Scouts, in charge of North Whidbey units, and he coaches both youth soccer and Little League. Additionally, he participates as an usher and eucharistic minister as a member of the Whidbey Island NAS Base Chapel, and he’s a member of the Knights of Columbus. He volunteers in his sons’ elementary school whenever he can, as does his wife, Mary.

“I am a man of simple means and I do what I do because it’s the way I was raised,” Mueller said Friday. “I was taught to look after my community and the people that work with me and after the children in our community.”

Mary Mueller says she is used to not only the Navy life, because of which her husband must sometimes work long hours or go away on deployment, but also his tendency to stay extremely busy by offering a helping hand where needed.

“He’s a volunteer-o-holic,” Mary Mueller said with a grin Friday. “I know Rich...if it’s for the kids, the community, he’s there.”

Helping others seems to be such an integral part of Mueller’s personality that he carries it over into his military service.

“He’s always encouraging his guys in his squadron, trying to turn them into where they can be their best person,” Mary Mueller said.

“I truly work for my junior sailors,” Mueller said. “If they have the tools that make them succeed, I succeed. When I do that for them, they do for the command. We all succeed.”

Mueller has one more chance to earn promotion to Chief Petty Officer, which “would be the extreme top of it all,” he said. If he makes it, he’ll stay in the Navy. If he doesn’t make the cut, he will be required to retire at the 20-year mark next summer.

“I really hope to stay. I hope to become a Chief Petty Officer,” Mueller said. “I could make even more of a difference.”

However, Mueller needs to do nothing more to impress Mary.

“I’m proud of him,” she said. “I’m very proud of him.”

Angelia Jordan

AE1 Angelia Jordan works from about 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and still finds the time to perform part-time secretarial duties, actually on the payroll of the company her husband, James, owns.

With a work schedule that already fills much of her time, Jordan manages to volunteer time to organizations in Oak Harbor, Everett, and Marysville. The bright, friendly, talkative woman is a veritable bundle of energy combined with a caring soul that was made to give to others.

Jordan volunteers her time to her church in Marysville, to the Monroe state prison, and to a battered women’s shelter in Everett. In Oak Harbor she donates her time to SAVI as a domestic abuse response specialist. Jordan also volunteers in Oak Harbor schools through Partners in Education. She even delivers Meals on Wheels to senior citizens during her lunch hour.

“Some people relax by reading or whatever...but how I relax is by just knowing that I’ve helped someone,” Jordan said Friday. “I have a peaceful night of sleep just from that.”

The sailor with 17 years of active-duty service so far, with the support of her husband, even helps others in her own home. The Jordans often take care of foster children, as well as take in and care for the children of her military friends when they must go on deployment.

“I feel I have something to offer. That was the reason I got into it,” Jordan said of foster care. “And once we got into it, we just really enjoy it.”

Being selected as Oak Harbor Navy League’s Shore-duty Sailor of the Year was something that Jordan didn’t expect, and it took a while to sink in.

“For one thing, I never thought that this was going to happen, because this is a huge, huge thing and I’m so excited about it,” Jordan said. “But the reason that I do everything I do, of course, is because I’m doing it from my heart.”

It took a while for James Jordan to realize how much of an honor it is for his wife to be selected as a Sailor of the Year.

“At first I didn’t know what the whole thing was about, but now I see that it’s a really big deal as far as the Navy’s concerned,” James Jordan said Friday. “I’m really proud that she’s being honored with this. I feel really good because I know I’m a part of what she’s about.”

The Jordans, married 15 years, are originally from Conway, S.C. and they have known each other for a long time.

“He’s my childhood sweetheart,” Jordan said.

When her work is done and a lull in her activities allows for a little down time, Jordan like to pick up a pizza, rent a movie on video, and just spend a quiet evening with James.

“What I do enjoy is spending time with my husband,” Jordan said. “I mean, I miss him throughout the day, really.”

Sgt. John Clough

Sgt. John Clough, an aviation electrician, has been stationed on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station with Marine Aviation Training Support Group for just over a year. Clough has been in the Marine Corps just four years.

Already he is Oak Harbor Navy League’s Marine of the Year for 2002.

“I got lucky, I guess,” Clough said, modestly, Friday. Yet, he seems to know that to be selected for the honor it takes more than just good fortune.

“Basically just doing a lot of extra stuff that’s not asked for,” Clough said. “like color guard and (NJ)ROTC.”

This summer Clough volunteered to work with a regional group of youth involved in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, where high school students from Washington, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, California and Oregon came up to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for some military training.

“I was drill sergeant for them,” Clough said. “It was a very long week of intense training for them.”

Clough thinks it’s important for adults to work with youth, setting a good example.

“It kind of...gives them an icon to look at,” Clough said. “Like a lot of professional athletes...they have it whether they want it or not. We have it the same way. It helps to set a good example for them.”

Beyond talking about performing extra service here and there, Clough remained perhaps hesitant to talk about his accomplishments. There, his wife of just three months, Angela, took over.

“He’s, left and right, doing stuff, getting involved. He just loves it,” Angela Clough said Friday. “I’m very proud of him. He just totally lives out all that I know of that the Marine Corps stands for.”

Clough says his future career goals include the Marine Corps, and he is grateful for the Marine of the Year award.

“It’s a big honor,” he said.

“The Marine Corps is not just a job to him,” Angela Clough said, “It’s his life.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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