The commands at Naval Air Station Lemoore come together at the end of each year to honor their own. But while many are awarded, only three are named as the base’s overall Sailors of the Year.
That honor is reserved for those who show exceptional on-the-job performance, first-rate leadership skills, unquestionable dedication to duty and other qualities which exemplify the core values of the U.S. Navy.
In an unusual twist, all three award recipients are air traffic controllers on the base.
“I guess this just goes to show how well we’ve excelled lately,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Ashley Andrews, who was named as Junior Sailor of the Year.
In another twist, the person named as Senior Sailor of the Year was Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Nathan Black – making this the second time in a row he’s received the prestigious award.
“I feel surprised and great for being chosen as the Sailor of the Sear for NAS Lemoore because again, you get the feeling that you are actually making a difference, and there are 60 other first class petty officers on this base who are doing an amazing job everyday as well that could have been selected,” Black said, upon being selected in 2013.
Black, 31, graduated from Sabino High School in Tucson. He spent two years at Pima Community College, then enlisted in 2004. He arrived in Lemoore in October 2009 and will finish his tour in April of this year.
His previous award citation said “There is an incalculable difference between a supervisor who destroys everyone’s initiative and a leader who enables his Sailors to act freely and take full responsibility for their jobs and perform to the best of their abilities […] Black is that leader. He inspires others to believe in themselves and realize their full potential.”
On the same week Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Ashley Andrews was named as Junior Sailor of the Year, she was also promoted to Air Traffic Controller 1st Class.
“It made for a really good week, and a wonderful Christmas,” Andrews said.
Andrews is originally from San Diego. She enlisted in July 2008, graduated from boot camp and attended school in Pensacola, Fla. She’s been on three deployments and has been at NAS Lemoore for more than two years now.
She considers winning this award one of her major accomplishments.
“It feels great to be recognized, as it’s a big reflection of what the commands and my superiors think of the work I do,” Andrews said. “I want to thank my office, my senior chief and master chief,” Andrews said. “I want to thank everyone I work with up and down the chain, from the E6s and above to the E5s and below.”
Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class Ruben Olmos was named as Bluejacket of the Year. Olmos said he had no idea he had been picked for the award. He’d even heard rumors that another nominee had been picked.
“I heard that and said to myself, ‘hey, he’s a good guy. He deserves it,’ Olmos said. “So when they made the announcements at the party, I wasn’t paying close attention. Then I heard my name and was just stunned.”
Olmos is a relative newcomer to the Navy, having enlisted in March 20123. Originally from Jerome, Idaho, Olmos went to boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill. and attended school in Pensacola. He’s been at NAS Lemoore for more than two years now.
“I was really surprised. I went up against some tough competition, good friends of mine who I went against for Bluejacket of the Quarter,” Olmos said. “My roommate actually beat me then. But I guess I came out on top.”
Winning the Bluejacket of the Year award and his first days in boot camp were among the highlights of Olmos’ Navy career so far.
“I’m proud to receive this award,” Olmos said. “It means you provided a good example to all the junior Sailors around you, and that you’ve impressed a lot of people with your hard work and dedication. I can definitely say this is the biggest award I’ve received in the Navy so far.”
“I have so many people to thank, I don’t even know where to start,” he added. “I’ve learned so much from everyone around here. All the people I work with, my chain of command, my family back home, they’ve all played a huge role in getting me to where I am today.”