By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Gethings, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs
A USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) division officer won the 2006 Captain Charles J. “Chuck” Nechvatal Award for Aviation Ground Maintenance Officer of the Year on April 3.
Commanding Officer Capt
. Brad Johanson recognized Lt. Todd Nelson, Intermediate Maintenance (IM) 2 division officer, in a small ceremony held on the bridge April 5, for making the most beneficial impact on command readiness and mission accomplishments during Stennis’ 2006 work-up schedule.
“This is definitely the pinnacle of my career,” Nelson said after being awarded a token of appreciation from Johanson. “It’s a huge honor, but I didn’t win it alone. There’s been a team around me the entire time, whether they were working for me or I was working for them. I just happen to be fortunate enough to have been nominated.”
The Chuck Nechvatal award is given out annually to aircraft maintenance officers O-3 and below and is competed for by hundreds of officers throughout the Navy. Along with the recognition, Nelson will receive a plaque donated by award sponsors and have his name inscribed on the Capt. Chuck Nechvatal commemorative plaque permanently maintained and displayed at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.
“Obviously, anytime you win an award like this your spirits are buoyed, and it makes you feel very confident,” Nelson said. “Something like this just makes me feel that much better and that much more proud of the work my guys and I do everyday.”
Nelson spent most of 2006 serving as the IM-2 division officer and also played a key role in bringing naval aviation’s airspeed initiative aboard Stennis. The initiative was geared at speeding up and simplifying the processes of acquiring and replacing aircraft components, creating a more efficient aircraft maintenance environment.
“Nelson runs a good shop down in IM-2,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Kayser, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9’s maintenance officer. “When we have items that require a quick turn around, I can always count on him and his shop, which is important to the entire air wing.”
As CVW-9’s maintenance officer, Kayser is responsible for the readiness of the nearly 70 aircraft aboard Stennis, and works closely with Nelson and his shop, as well as the rest of the ship’s maintenance department, to keep all aircraft operational and flying missions.
Kayser was Nelson’s production chief many years ago and said he’s not surprised Nelson was selected for this award.
“Anytime you’re recognized as the Navy’s best in any field, it’s a big deal,” said Stennis’ AIMD officer Cmdr. Timothy Pfannenstein. “Nelson’s been a great benefit to this ship in terms of the metrics we measure ourselves by; he’s very exacting in everything he does, and he’s very engaged with his troops.”
“He wasn’t just been picked as an aircraft maintainer, he was picked for what he contributed to the strike group and the ship, as well as innovative procedures that go into Navy aviation as a whole,” said Pfannenstein. “It’s very significant he’s been recognized for those contributions.”
Johanson said winning the aviation maintenance ground officer of the year award was a phenomenal recognition for Nelson’s superb service in support of Stennis and its mission.
“Nelson has done so much to help Stennis achieve the best AIMD in the fleet,” Johanson said at Nelson’s ceremony. “These maintainers keep our aircraft fully operational and capable to launch from our flight deck in support of our many missions.”
Nelson’s award comes during the first part of Stennis’ 2007 deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of operation, where the ship and its strike group is currently conducting operations supporting multinational ground forces in Afghanistan.
Nelson is a limited duty officer who excelled through the enlisted ranks and was commissioned from chief aviation electronics technician.