Support our mission
 
Commander, Naval Forces Japan, Rear Adm. James D. Kelly presents Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Jones, a yeoman at CNFJ a Navy Achievement Medal and offers congratulations for his hard work and achievement.
Commander, Naval Forces Japan, Rear Adm. James D. Kelly presents Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Jones, a yeoman at CNFJ a Navy Achievement Medal and offers congratulations for his hard work and achievement. (Chris Fowler / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Eight sailors stood at attention before their admiral — each in dress blues, squared away in finest Navy fashion.

“You represent the cream of the crop,” Rear Adm. James D. Kelly, Naval Forces Japan commander, told the sailors.

Each had been selected as candidates for 2006 CNFJ Sailor of the Year for their respective units. On Thursday, Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Aiello, an operations specialist from Atsugi, stood a little taller after Kelly awarded him the 2006 CNFJ Sailor of Year.

The program, which started in 1972, recognizes the sailor who best serves as a Navy role model, said Regional Command Master Chief Luis R. Cruz.

Being selected as a candidate for CNFJ’s SOY isn’t taken lightly. The group of eight faced a “murder board” to help the judges decide the top sailor.

However, being one of the final eight does come with a few fringe benefits, not the least of which is a chance to take a trip to Yokosuka and spend a few days schmoozing with regional admirals and master chiefs. Flying from locations as remote as Diego Garcia, each sailor was treated to a three-day program that included a Japanese cultural tour and several dinners and luncheons.

But among the incidentals noted by several unit SOYs, one stood out as the most coveted — a parking spot.

“We all were awarded Navy Achievement Medals …” said Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Jones, a yeoman and Sailor of the Year for DNFJ staff. “But around the CNFJ compound parking is scarce, so I definitely will enjoy having a parking spot for the rest of the year.”

Another notable “perk” is not having to stand watch, what many sailors consider to be the bane of a Navy career.

One command in particular, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, seemed to stand out for the generosity it displayed to its recipient. Aside from free room and board at Yokosuka, it awarded 30 days of duty-free status, a parking spot, a $50 gift certificate and a $100 savings bond.

Add to that displays and words of gratitude at award ceremonies, CNFJ also presented all of the finalists with six-months of free cable television service and a coupon for a stay at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo.

“This was a competition, and everyone likes to win, but when it happens — it’s amazing,” said Aiello. “I was so shocked that I don’t even remember the admiral saying my name. I just remember him coming up to me and shaking my hand. It was like the room was spinning.”

Top sailors

n Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus K. Watkins: SOY Fleet Activities YokosukanKeith Jones: SOY CNFJ staffn Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Perkins: SOY Naval Air Facilities Misawan Petty Officer 1st Class Kovit Markklam: SOY Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcian Petty Officer 1st Class John Doyle: SOY Commander Fleet Activities, Sasebon Petty Officer 1st Class Tomeka Morris: SOY Personnel Support Detachment, Diego Garcian Petty Officer 1st Class Marline Johnson: SOY Commander Fleet Activities, Okinawan Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Aiello: SOY Naval Air Facility, Atsugi

— Stars and Stripes

Migrated

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up