SUFFOLK, Va. -- Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR) announced the Sea, Shore and Reserve Senior Sailors of the Year (SOY) during an awards ceremony at its annual Information Warfare (IW) Commanders Summit in Suffolk, Virginia, Jan. 30.
During the ceremony, Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Petty Officer 1st Class (NAC/IW) Shastyn Nelson, assigned to Navy Information Operations Command, Georgia, (NIOC Georgia) was named NAVIFOR Sea Sailor of the Year, and Aerographer’s Mate Petty Officer 1st Class (IW/AW/SW) Leigh Windham, assigned to Naval Information Warfare Training Group (NIWTG) Gulfport, Mississippi; was named NAVIFOR Shore Sailor of the Year. Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Petty Officer 1st Class (IW) Kara Budreau, assigned to NIOC Texas-Minneapolis, was announced as NAVIFOR Reserve Sailor of the Year.
“All the candidates are top notch Sailors who represent the best that our Navy has to offer,” said Vice Adm. Brian Brown, NAVIFOR commander, while announcing the winners. “To me they are all winners. Getting to know them has been inspirational, and I know that our IW community and the Navy are going to have great leaders in the future.”
Nelson, a native of Grant, Michigan, entered the Navy in January 2004. She graduated from Basic Training Great Lakes, Illinois, in 2005, attended the Defense Language Institute and graduated from the Hebrew Basic Course. Her commands include NIOC Georgia.
“It is not an individual effort to get to this point because I had a very supportive chain of command, great shipmates, leaders and my husband, who is my rock, guiding me to where I’m at today,” said Nelson.
Windham, a native of Plymouth, Minnesota, entered the Navy in October 2010. She graduated from Basic Training Great Lakes in 2010 and attended Aerographer’s Mate A school. She graduated from forecaster’s school in 2014. Her commands include Fleet Weather Center San Diego, USS George Washington (CVN-73), USS Ronald Regan (CVN 76) and IWTG Gulfport, formerly Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Professional Development Center in Gulfport.
“I’m in shock that I was selected because the other two shore candidates were very deserving. I am thankful for those at IWTG who helped me out and I am very humble and honored to represent the team moving forward,” said Windham.
Budreau, a native of Elk River, Minnesota, entered the Navy in January 2013. She graduated from Basic Training Great Lakes in 2013 and attended the Joint Cyber Analysis Course at Naval Technical Training Center Corry Station, Naval Air Station Pensacola. Her commands include Naval Operational Support Center Minneapolis, NIOC Texas-Minneapolis.
“Everyone here has been fantastic; it has been great to get to know all the other candidates and good network opportunities,” said Budreau. “The camaraderie with everyone here was great because we were all rooting [for] and helping each other.”
To be selected as one of the finalists for the Type Commander (TYCOM) Sailor of the Year competition, the Sailors displayed a level of professionalism and dedication that identified them as being clearly at the top of their profession in each of their component commands.
“I am very proud of all of our finalists for this year's NAVIFOR Sea, Shore and Reserve Sailor of the Year competition,” said NAVIFOR TYCOM SOY Coordinator Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) Master Chief Petty Officer Jason Patterson. “It's truly humbling, as we get to see first-hand, the tremendous talent and dedication they have. One day they will be chief petty officers. They will lead the petty officers; they will lead the chief's mess; and they will lead the Navy.”
Nominated Sailors from the NAVIFOR commands spent the week in the Norfolk area at a series of luncheons, receptions and meetings with the Sailor of the Year board, NAVIFOR senior enlisted and officers.
The next step for the sea and shore Senior Sailors of the Year is the U.S. Fleet Forces Sailor of the Year competition next month and the Reserve Senior Sailor of the Year will compete with other reservists at a later date.
The SOY Program was established in 1972 by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet. The intent of the competition is to recognize individual Sailors who best represented the ideals of the professional Sailor and the Navy. Initially only Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors on sea duty were recognized. Within 10 years, however, the SOY program was expanded to include shore duty and Navy Reserve Sailors.
Finalists for Sea Sailor of the Year:
Aerographer’s Mate Petty Officer 1st Class (IW/EXW/AW) Daniel Ealy, Naval Oceanography Special Warfare Detachment Norfolk and Special Reconnaissance Team Two.
Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Petty Officer 1st Class (IW/SW/AW) Champagne Green, Information Warfare Training Group San Diego.
Sonar Technician (Submarine) Petty Officer 1st Class (SS) Jason McIntosh, Farragut Technical Analysis Center.
Finalists for Shore Sailor of the Year:
Aerographer’s Mate Petty Officer 1st Class(IW) Alexandria Navarro, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.
Legalman Petty Officer 1st Class (IW) Victoria Thompson, Office of Naval Intelligence.
Finalists for Reserve Sailor of the Year:
Intelligence Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Allen, Naval Reserve Joint Intelligence Center, Central Command 0597.
Intelligence Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class(IW/AW/SW) Shawn Cunningham, Naval Reserve Defense Intelligence Agency 0466.
Intelligence Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class (IW) Brittany Mac Iver, Naval Reserve U.S. Navy Command Intelligence Unit 0174.
Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Petty Officer 1st Class (SW) Mark Nelson, Naval Reserve Navy Information Operations Command Hawaii.
Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (IW) Peter Stilling, Naval Reserve Office of Naval Intelligence 0287.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.
For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, Navy News webpage at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.