Four Third Quarter 2016 Sailors of the Quarter (SOQs) from the Bremerton-based aircraft carrier USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN 74) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during a recent luncheon. Appearing left to right: Commanding Officer, CAPT Gregory Huffman; Council President, Tim Katona; CMDCS (AW/SW) Weba Roberts; Senior SOQ AM1 (AW/SW) Jason Knopes; ABCM (AW/SW) Jack Hudson; Command Master Chief, CMDCM (SW/AW) Benjamin Rushing; Blue Jacket of the Quarter ASAN (AW/SW) Darrell Farnham; SHCM (SW/AW) Warren Brown; Junior SOQ ABH3 (AW/SW) Justine Rolava; and SOQ SH2 (SW/AW) Montrell Thomas.
Silverdale, Washington. Four Third Quarter 2016 Sailors of the Quarter (SOQs) from the Bremerton-based aircraft carrier USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN 74) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during a September 13th luncheon held at the Bangor Plaza on Naval Station Kitsap–Bangor. Each awardee was presented a soaring eagle statuette engraved with their names by Council President, Tim Katona, with assistance from Bremerton Mayor, Patty Lent. The carrier’s Commanding Officer, Captain Greg Huffman, Command Master Chief, CMDCM (SW/AW) Benjamin Rushing, and the awardees’ respective Department Leading Chief Petty Officers (DLCPOs) were present to honor the stand-outs for their hard work and individual efforts. Huffman was also the guest speaker and enlightened the audience regarding achievements and challenges from the ship’s recent deployment.JOHN C STENNIS is the U.S. Navy’s seventh Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carrier and is named for Senator John Cornelius Stennis of Mississippi. The ship was christened on November 11, 1993 by Senator Stennis’ daughter, Margaret Stennis Womble and commissioned on December 9, 1995. Home-ported in Bremerton, Washington, JOHN C STENNIS deploys with a crew of over 5,000 including the embarked Air Wing. After completing a 16-month Docking Planned Incremental Availability maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in late 2014, “JCS” completed a challenging pre-deployment period and deployed to the Eastern Pacific to “show the flag” and protect our interests during a period of heightened tensions in the region. While deployed, STENNIS was the centerpiece of Rim of the Pacific 2016, the largest multi-national naval exercise in the world, and returned to Bremerton in August 2016.
The Senior SOQ is Aviation Structural Mechanic First Class (AW/SW) Jason Knopes, of Goldendale, WA, who was also joined at the luncheon by his wife, Christina. According to his citation, Knopes led the Aviation Hydraulic and Pneumatic Repair work center through its semi-annual Quality Assurance Audit with minimal discrepancies and a grade of “On Track.” Additionally, through his deck plate leadership, he was instrumental in his work center’s completion of 47 maintenance qualifications, 31 Damage Control qualifications, six Maintenance, Material, and Management qualifications, 11 Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist qualifications, one Blue Jacket of the Month selection, one Blue Jacket of the Quarter selection, and one Junior Sailor of the Quarter selection.
Knopes was introduced by his DCLPO, CMDCS (AW/SW) Weba Roberts. She described Knopes, in addition to being an outstanding leader, as an exceptional metal artist whose mentoring of junior sailors has kept morale high during the ship’s latest deployment.
Knopes in turn praised the chain of command on the ship, as well as the sailors who work for him. He also thanked the Navy League for putting together the recognition event.
Ship’s Serviceman Second Class (SW/AW) Montrell Thomas, of Laurinburg, NC, is the ship’s Third Quarter SOQ. According to his citation, Thomas directed 35 Sailors in the maintenance of 397 spaces and aggressively drove corrective actions for over 650 zone inspection discrepancies. An exceptional leader, his team delivered five-star hotel services to 300 Distinguished Visitors, guests, and officers while conducting operations in the Seventh Fleet Area of Operations. His exceptional planning and foresight contributed to the division earning the Commander, Naval Air Forces Dorie P. Miller Award for the best wardroom operation in the Fleet.
Thomas was introduced by his DCLPO, SHCM (SW/AW) Warren Brown from the Supply Department. He described Thomas as a vital part of the Supply Team while serving as the Leading Petty Officer of the Hotel Services Division on the carrier. “[Thomas] is the type of leader who makes his sailors better. I always see him motivating them. With over 400 spaces of the ship to take care of, it’s a hard job. But I always see his sailors smiling and doing a great job taking care of the crew.”
Thomas also thanked the current leadership on the ship and emphasized that it was the best he had experienced so far in his six-year career.
The Junior SOQ was Aviation Boatswain’s (Handling) Third Class (AW/SW) Justine Rolava, originally from Grobina, Latvia. According to her citation, she managed the scheduling and training of 27 personnel, manning eight critical watch stations that enabled the safe launch and recovery of 2,789 aircraft in support of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise and maintained the combat readiness of Carrier Air Wing Nine. With an unyielding commitment to the development of subordinates, she mentored eight Sailors who completed warfare qualifications that played a key role in the successful completion of a Western Pacific deployment.
ABCM (AW/SW) Jack Hudson, Rolava’s DCLPO introduced her prior to receiving her award. Hudson recounted how Rolava exceled performing a job in the carrier’s control tower usually staffed by a Second Class Petty Officer. Hudson also explained how Rolava speaks four languages, Latvian, Russian, German, and English, which has come in handy many times during her service.
Finally, Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman (AW/SW) Darrell Farnham, of Old Orchard Beach, ME, was the JOHN C STENNIS Third Quarter 2016 Blue Jacket of the Quarter. According to his citation, Farnham completed 102 maintenance actions that contributed to his Division’s 98% Support Equipment availability rate in support of Carrier Air Wing Nine operations and Air, Supply, and Combat Systems departments’ readiness. Additionally, as an Assistant Command Fitness Leader, he oversaw the training of personnel enrolled in the command’s Fitness Enhancement Program, resulting in 73 Sailors passing Physical Fitness Assessments.
Farnham was introduced by CMDCS (AW/SW) Weba Roberts, who is also Farnham’s DCLPO. Roberts recalled how both Farnham and she were from New England, but references to Tom Brady and the Patriots received mixed reactions from the Seattle-area audience!
The U.S. Navy established Sailor of the Year (SOY) and Junior SOY programs, fed by the four SOQs from that year, to recognize superior performance of petty officers with emphasis on outstanding achievements, exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in performance. The recognition program starts at the unit level (ship, shore command, aviation squadron, etc.). Each winner then competes at the next higher organizational level until one Navy-wide SOY is selected for each of four areas: Pacific Fleet, Atlantic Fleet, Reserve Force, and Shore Support Commands.