Commanding Officer Capt. Tim DeWitt announced Nov. 15 the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East Fiscal Year 2019 Sailors of the Year.
Utilitiesman 1st Class (UT1) Sonia Deputee, Yeoman 2nd Class (YN2) Kendall Gerrish, and Construction Electrician Constructionman (CECN) Hunter Vicknair were selected as Sailor, Junior Sailor, and Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year, respectively.
“Congratulations to our NAVFAC Far East's Sailors of the Year, FY19—their sustained superior performance over the last 12 months is a testimony to their resolve and drive to lead the way,” said DeWitt. “I am extremely proud to call these noteworthy Sailors our Shipmates.”
All three Sailors said that their accomplishment is a reflection of the hard work put forth by the teams in which they work and the leadership behind them, supporting them along the way.
Deputee is the leading petty officer for the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Public Works Department (PWD) and command pay and personnel administrator. She was also responsible for the professional development and mentorship of nine active duty sailors.
“UT1 Deputee is already operating at the chief level,” Steelworker Chief Petty Officer Franklyn Tamarez, NAFA PWD senior enlisted advisor said about her. “She strides in excellence in everything she does as a sense of pride is associated with her work and attention to detail. Mentoring and holding troops accountable is a daily aspect of her leadership that contributes to the Atsugi spear as the Sailors she leads have been recognized for a multiple awards.”
Deputee is an Arizona native and the granddaughter of a Navajo World War II Code Talker. She said she joined the Navy because she saw a recruiting advertisement calling recruits to accelerate their lives.
“I knew what I wanted to be—I picked the Seabees,” Deputee said. “It was only going to be a short time, long enough for me to travel, make money, and go back to school. I did everything on that checklist that the Navy promised in that ad—I have no regrets.”
The next item on her checklist is to put on chief anchors and finish her Bachelor’s Degree, she said.
YN2 Kendall Gerrish
Gerrish is the military liaison for Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, PWD and the command pay and personnel administrator for NAVFAC Far East. In addition to processing pay and personnel actions, he processed 57 military awards with no discrepancies and covered a gapped civilian administrative assistant billet in a high-volume and highly visible office for several months.
“YN2 Gerrish earned Junior Sailor of the Year for his dedication and unparalleled support to NAVFAC Far East this past year,” said Heather Nicely, NAVFAC Far East administrative officer. “As an integral part of the Business Directorate 52 Team, his knowledge and mentorship helped lead our team through many changes and challenges. As a genuine team player, he singularly assumed the role of acting BDA (business directorate assistant) to Mr. Chris DeConti (NAVFAC Far East business director) for several months, in addition to his military liaison duties. His commitment to both his personal and professional goals is dynamic. He is a Sailor worthy of emulation by his peers and our team is proud of him beyond measure.”
Gerrish is a self-proclaimed Air Force Brat, as the son of an Air Force officer. He calls Albuquerque, New Mexico home after moving several times growing up and said he joined the Navy to keep the tradition of military service alive in his family as both of his grandfathers were Air Force officers as well.
“I was very excited to be recognized and felt very humbled to be at a primarily construction-based command that they would recognize my efforts and choose me. It makes me feel very appreciated,” said Gerrish, who said his next goals are to complete his degree in Human Resource Management and then become a Navy officer.
CECN Hunter Vicknair
CECN Vicknair is the Central Tool Room representative at NAF Atsugi PWD maintaining 700 handheld power tools and equipment necessary for Self-Help operations.
Tamarez, who is also the senior enlisted advisor for Sailor of the Year Deputee, praised Vicknair’s performance and highlighted his accomplishments.
“His meticulous demeanor ensured tools were in working condition, and he conducted a wall-to-wall inventory and reorganized $750,000 worth of equipment and tools effectively supporting building managers and Sailors for 27 tenant commands aboard NAF Atsugi,” Tamarez said. “As a crew member actively involved in the execution of 10 branch projects, he provided improved work conditions and quality of life for personnel onboard Naval Air Facility Atsugi, ultimately saving the Navy $78,000 in labor costs. He also conducted Builders Shop orientation briefs for 25 active duty sailors allowing them to safely use equipment and power tools for command beautification projects.”
NAF Atsugi is Vicknair’s first duty station. He joined the Navy while still in high school and went to boot camp right after he graduated.
“I wasn’t interested in college and the military was an option,” said the 20-year old New Orleans native. “My dad showed me the Seabees mission and I was sold.”
Vicknair was also the third and fourth quarter Bluejacket Sailor of the Quarter, FY2019 and was recently promoted to the rank of E-3. He said he tries his best to answer the questions when he goes in front of the selection board because he wants to make his leadership and his parents proud.
“I am working toward (making the next rank) E-4 right now and once I leave here I would like to go to a battalion and learn my trade more,” he said. I haven’t decided yet whether I will make the Navy a career, but I would like to think I would.”
These three sailors have been nominated and will represent the NAVFAC Far East Command as NAVFAC Pacific Sailors of the Year.