Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Adm. Phil Davidson announced the 2015 USFFC Fleet Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year during a ceremony hosted by the Hampton Roads Navy League at the Sheraton Waterside in Norfolk, March 24.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (AW/SW) Tinisha Franklin, a native of Brooklyn, New York, stationed aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) was announced as the 2015 Sea Sailor of the Year and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class (AW/SW) Brian McGarrigle, a native of Clearwater, Florida, stationed at Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40) as the Shore Sailor of the Year.
"For the Shore Sailors of the Year standing behind me, they come from some 280 commands and 27,000 Sailors, so the handful of Sailors that are up here today are truly the cream of the crop," said Davidson. "For the sea commands, there are 400 commands and some 73,000 Sailors and they come from the East Coast to Bahrain."
Davidson congratulated all 13 candidates for their outstanding performance and the support of their family and friends.
"We constantly talk about making the fleet ready to fight and win, and I'll tell you, these Sailors standing behind me today are the ones who put that 'win' into the words fight and win, no doubt about it," said Davidson.
The announcement came at the conclusion of five full days of activities designed to highlight the individual accomplishments of the 13 finalists. Social functions sponsored by local Hampton Roads military and civilian supporters led to the final event of the SOY competition, an intense review board for each candidate to determine who will represent USFF as the Fleet Sea and Shore SOYs.
"This is completely humbling, it is so surreal and I still can't believe they called my name," said Franklin. "I didn't really expect this for myself at all. I expected and hoped this for the others but to be the one actually receiving the award is an amazing experience."
Franklin credits a large portion of her success to those around her.
"I am here because my Sailors, my leadership and my family believed in me," said Franklin. "Even when I didn't believe in myself; they saw something in me that I didn't see and kept me motivated to get to this point."
The USFF SOY program recognizes the best and brightest Sailors throughout USFF. Davidson awarded each of the finalists the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Franklin will be meritoriously promoted to the rank of chief petty officer by the Chief of Naval Operations in May. McGarrigle will go on to the next round of competition at the Chief of Naval Operations Shore SOY competition later this month in Washington, D.C.
Retired Master Chief Torpedoman Rich Corey, the first Submarine Forces and Atlantic Fleet Sailor of the Year, and the honorary guest speaker of the ceremony, enlisted in the Navy in 1960 and served aboard USS George Washington (SSBN-598) before assuming duty as an instructor at Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Connecticut.
"My selection back in 1972 was one of the most memorable moments of my naval career," said Corey. "I recall there being such great talent and professionalism among my competitors, any one of which were capable of winning. Today's talent is just as strong."
Established in 1972 by the then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and then-Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, the Sailor of the Year program recognizes Sailors who best represent the ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and ultimately the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within 10 years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.
Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year:
Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (AW/SW) Tinisha Franklin
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Norfolk
Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW) Amparo Balderas
Commander, Naval Expeditionary Task Force Europe and Africa, Commander Task Force 68 (CTF 68), Rota, Spain
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF/SW) Genesisjames Dizon
Marine Corps Forces Command, Norfolk
Cryptologic Technician 1st (NAC/IDW/AW) Class Courtney Evers
Navy Information Operations Detachment Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Christopher Roth
USS Nitze (DDG 94), Norfolk
Construction Mechanic 1st (SCW/SW) Class Michael Steffey
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, Gulfport, Mississippi
Machinist's Mate 1st (SS) Class Christopher Tanner
USS Maryland (SSBN 738), Kings Bay, Georgia
Fleet Shore Sailor of the Year:
Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class (AW/SW) Brian McGarrigle Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40) Mayport, Florida
Legalman 1st Class (SW/AW/IDW) Shallon Davis
Naval Surface Squadron 14, Mayport, Florida
Cryptologic Technician 1st Class (IDW/SG) Kevin Owens
Farragut Technical Analysis Center, Washington, D.C.
Logistics Specialist 1st Class (EXW/SW) Norma Porter
Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group, Norfolk
Information Systems Technician 1st Class (IDW/SW/AW/SCW) Chantel Riggenbach Military Sealift Command, Norfolk
Machinist's Mate 1st Class (SS) Mark Rosario
Trident Refit Facility (TRF), Kings Bay, Georgia