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Nominees for the 18th annual Donald E. Barber Leadership Award gathered for a dinner held at Naval Air Station Lemoore’s Tailhook Tavern on Thursday Nov. 1 prior to the announcement of this year’s winner.

The Donald E. Barber Leadership Award recognizes superior leadership as embodied in the 25-year career of the late Master Chief Petty Officer Donald E. Barber. The award is presented to an outstanding senior enlisted active duty sailor assigned to NAS Lemoore or Commander, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CFSWP). There were 22 nominees this year.

“The award recognizes inspiring leadership, innovative contributions, and flexibility as a leader,” said guest speaker James Tocorzic, Force Master Chief from Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Renowned as a consummate professional, Master Chief Barber was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122) from March 1965 until Oct. 1968. Master Chief Barber’s awards during his service include the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, 6 Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Armed forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He retired from the Navy in Sep. 1980.

The award is presented annually by the Association of Naval Aviation, Greater Kings County Navy League and CFSWP. The award recipient is selected from a panel chaired by the CFSWP maintenance master chief and command master chief and comprised of maintenance master chiefs and command master chiefs from the NAS Lemoore flight line.

“As we speak repeatedly about Rhino recovery readiness, we need to understand that the enlisted leaders in this room and those like you up and down the flight line are the ones who truly will make change in our aviation community,” Tocorzic said. “Your professional and relentless leadership ensures we are a fighting force ready to defend our nation and national interests anywhere in the world.”

Master Chief Barber’s family was in attendance at the dinner, and his daughter Kelly Virden presented the award.

This year’s recipient, AMCS (AW/SW) Jose N. Valdez from VFA-102, was recognized for his meritorious service as command senior chief petty officer and maintenance senior chief petty officer during two deployments between Sep. 2017 and Sep. 2018. He was unable to attend the dinner as his squadron is currently deployed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN- 76).

The Donald E. Barber Leadership Award has been presented annually at NAS Lemoore since 2001.

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