WASHINGTON -- The 2012 Sailor of the Year winners were meritoriously advanced to Chief Petty Officer during a ceremony held at the Navy Memorial May 16. Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Mark Ferguson was the guest speaker at the pinning ceremony hosted by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(AW/NAC) Mike Stevens. Electronics Technician 1st Class Cheyenne Shasky, U.S. Fleet Forces Sea Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joseph Santos, U.S. Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year; Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Brian Denike, Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year; and Cryptologic Technician Networks 1st Class Shannon McQueen, Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year were each presented their Chief Petty Officer appointment letter from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) prior to having their anchors pinned to their collars and combination covers placed on their heads.
"It is an honor to be here to recognize the performance and achievement of our four Sailors of the Year for 2012. This recognition highlights your professional and personal dedication. You represent the diverse talent, knowledge and experience of our Navy today. Congratulations and continue your hard work and continue to lead," said Ferguson.
Before the anchors were pinned on the Sailors of the Year, MCPON Stevens spoke about the importance of remembering how they represent the many Sailors who are working hard, staying out of trouble, and being good and decent people.
"Being a Chief Petty Officer is not for the weak of heart. You must be all in, all the time," said Stevens. He added, "Continue to look forward, lead by example and make positive impacts on our great Navy." Families, friends and shipmates traveled from around the world to attend the ceremony and share the highlights of their accomplishments and achievement on advancing to Chief Petty Officer.
"I am humbled beyond belief by the support from my command," said McQueen. She found out after the ceremony that four buses filled with junior Sailors and over fifty Chief Petty Officers took the metro to witness the ceremony.
Throughout their week-long visit to Washington, the Sailors of the Year and their families toured historic sites and enjoyed special events held in their honor.
"I enjoyed having my family with me to experience all of the festivities," said Santos. He also offered advice for Sailors. "Just do the right thing, keep your head up, be humble and always be yourself." The families of the Sailors of the Year were very proud and excited to be a part of the festivities.
"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," said Gordon Heap, brother to McQueen. Heap is a soldier who flew from Kuwait to attend the ceremony.
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972 by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet to recognize an individual Sailor who best represented 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 ten years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.