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CAMP LESTER, Okinawa — A former U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa corpsman was named the Navy’s “2005 Shore Sailor of the Year” in a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon R. Dittlinger received the award from Adm. Vernon Clark, Chief of Naval Operations, during a May 26 ceremony at the Pentagon. She was selected from four other nominees and will return to the Pentagon in July when she will be meritoriously promoted to the rank of chief petty officer along with the Pacific Fleet, Atlantic Fleet and Reserve Force Sailors of the Year, according to a Navy news release.

Dittlinger, named Pacific Fleet Shore Sailor of the Year earlier this year, represented USNH Okinawa, where she served as the command career counselor, leading petty officer of the command color guard, and senior enlisted leader of the hospital’s manpower and administrative support department.

She also was a voting assistance volunteer and helped set up the hospital’s POW/MIA wall. She was assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, N.C., in March. In July she will have completed 12 years of service.

USNH Okinawa Command Master Chief Jimmy Hodges said he was “extremely proud” of Dittlinger’s accomplishment.

“I have never had a sailor make it that far in that stiff of competition,” he said Friday. “As a matter of fact, not too many CMCs can say that their sailor was awarded that prestigious of an honor. She is most deserving of the award. She has the talent, personality, grasp of where the Navy is and where it is going and she really knows how to take care of the sailors in her charge.

“As a mentor, it is easy for me to tell sailors in my command, ‘do the right things and you will be rewarded,’” he said. “Now I can hold her up as a model of a real person that did the right things and was rewarded.”

Dittlinger, a native of Annapolis, Md., attributed much of her success to her husband, her mentor and her shipmates.

“Standing here in the company of the Navy’s best sailors, that in itself is an honor,” she stated in the release. She added that visits to such Washington landmarks as the Iwo Jima Monument, Korean War Memorial and Arlington Cemetery gave deep perspective to the award.

The Sailor of the Year program was initiated by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt in 1972. Recipients are automatically advanced to the next pay grade.


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