The Navy League and Rotary Club of Oak Harbor presented its Shore, Sea and Reserve Sailors of the Year awards Friday at a recognition luncheon.
“Our Sailors of the Year are the epitome of Navy values and Navy attributes,” Capt. Geoffrey Moore, commanding officer for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, said during the luncheon.
A selection committee of various command master chiefs, which is the most senior leader of enlisted ranks, selected and interviewed finalists for the award, said Steve Bristow, Navy League of Oak Harbor president.
“Our luncheon is the formal recognition of the final selection for sea, shore, and reserve SOYs, and their own symbolic representation of all of the sailors,” he said in an email.
Sheri Russell, religious programs specialist first class, was named Shore Sailor of the Year. She was born in Lawrenceville, Ga., and reported to the NAS Whidbey Island chapel in 2015 for her first tour in the religious programs rating. She learned her new rating while rebuilding the religious offering funds program and rewriting the chapel’s standard operating procedures. In 2016, she advanced to first class petty officer.
Russell’s awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, three Good Conduct Medals and various unit service awards. Currently, Russell resides in Oak Harbor with her dogs Jade and Champ. She said she loves the area, and will be sad when she moves to Bahrain in a few months.
Russell said she appreciated the nomination and award.
“I do a lot with the community, and I’m glad to get recognized for it,” she said.
Dustin Walker, aviation ordnanceman first class, was named Sea Sailor of the Year, but was unable to attend because he was on detachment in Florida.
Walker was born in Tampico, Ill, and joined electronic attack squadron 140 at NAS Whidbey Island in 2015. In 2016 he received his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Brandman University.
His awards include five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medals, four Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and Marksman 9mm Pistol and M16/M4 Rifle.
Walker lives in Oak Harbor with his wife and two children.
Jennifer Deburkarte, logistics specialist first class, was named Reserve Sailor of the Year. She was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and first came to NAS Whidbey Island in 2007 and returned in 2011. She served as the government purchase card holder and “was directly responsible for funding numerous improvement projects at NAS Whidbey that saved the Navy millions of dollars in facility repair costs,” said Greg Smith, master of ceremonies, during the event.
In 2015, she joined patrol squadron 69 and advanced to petty officer first class. Her awards include five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, three Good Conduct Medals, Humanitarian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, six Overseas Service Ribbons, four Sea Service Deployment ribbons and other various unit and campaign service awards.
Deburkarte lives in Oak Harbor with her husband and two children.
“It’s a very humbling experience, I’m very honored to be selected,” she said.
“I can only hope to be a positive influence to my sailors, and for the Navy and also for the community.”