Candy Slowik was a bundle of nerves Monday morning as she anxiously waited for news 2,500 miles away.
As she sat in a chair in the kitchen of her Oak Harbor home, she was listening to her husband on a phone in one hand and staring at her iPhone in the other when a text came through that caused Slowik to cut off her husband in mid-sentence.
“He got it!” she yelled.
Those three words, all in capital letters, were texted to Candy Slowik from Gina Slowik, who was still feeling numb in a crowded conference room at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.
She had just got done embracing her husband Tony Slowik after his name was announced, declaring him as the 2015 recipient of the Chief Warrant Officer Michael J. Novosel Award.
The national award, presented annually by the Reserve Officers Association, recognizes the most outstanding chief warrant officer, encompassing all branches of U.S. military service.
Slowik, 39, is a U.S. Coast Guard reservist based out of Port Security Unit 313 in Everett who has been activated since October.
An Oak Harbor resident and 1994 graduate of Oak Harbor High School, Slowik also is a patrol officer with the Oak Harbor Police Department. He is on a military leave of absence as he prepares for an upcoming deployment with the Coast Guard.
Earlier Monday at the Reserve Officers Association’s national convention, Slowik also received a plaque honoring him as the 2014 Coast Guard Reserve Chief Warrant Officer of the Year.
He’s been either a reservist or active duty in the Coast Guard for 19 years.
His wife was at his side when his name was announced for the Michael J. Novosel Award, named after the former Medal of Honor recipient who served in three wars. Novosel, a bomber pilot, gave up the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve to become a chief warrant officer and helicopter pilot in the Army during the Vietnam War.
It is the first time a reservist from the Coast Guard received the award.
“It’s an extremely big honor,” Tony Slowik said. “It’s something I never really imagined receiving.
“To be selected as the recipient is a very big honor and very humbling.”
News traveled fast out of D.C.
Candy Slowik said she got goose bumps when she learned her son was awarded the national honor.
She was receiving updates from her daughter-in-law all morning. At 11:16 a.m., she got the big news, which she excitedly shared with her husband Jim Slowik, the former Oak Harbor mayor who was listening on the phone from his workplace.
“Tony has always been the kid who is just like the Eveready battery,” Candy Slowik said of her eldest son, one of four children. “He’s broken a number of bones throughout his life and it has never stopped him.”
“I knew he could do this.
“The whole family is so proud of him.”
Tony Slowik was accompanied by his wife and lieutenant commander Nan Silverman-Wise, the executive officer from his command.
When Slowik’s name was announced for the Michael J. Novosel Award, he said he was shocked.
“It was very surreal,” he said. “Thankfully, I had my wife next to me. We were able to share the moment together.
Slowik, a police officer in Oak Harbor for 12 years, said he is grateful for the city’s understanding in accomodating his military leave.
He’s also grateful for his family that includes two daughters.
“The balancing act is always difficult,” Slowik said. “You’re always short-changing somebody. Having a career in the Coast Guard and having a career in the police department, the rock for me has always been my wife. She’s been the foundation in the family, extremely supportive and encouraging and my best friend. None of this would be possible without her.”