SURFPAC Welcomes 2013 Sailor of the Year Finalists

2013 Sailor of the Year finalists

Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) welcomed seven Sailors to San Diego for its annual Sea and Shore Sailor of the Year week. The Sailor of the Year program recognizes individuals who best represent each command, and ultimately, the Navy. The week’s events honor each of the finalists for their contributions to their commands and local communities while evaluating their military bearing, professional performance and leadership skills. This week they’re all competing for the Sailor of the Year title, to be announced 14 February.


Hull Technician 1st Class Petty Officer Donipaul Briscoe reported to Basic Underwater Demolition Training at Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif. in 2003. Later that year he reported aboard USS Denver (LPD 9). While assigned to Denver, he was advanced to 2nd Class Petty Officer, and earned his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification. He also completed numerous deployments to Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Fleet Areas of Operation. In 2007, he reported aboard USS McCampbell (DDG 85), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Briscoe reported to Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific in 2010. He earned his Master Training Specialist and Afloat Training Specialist qualifications, and was selected as the Senior Sailor of the Third Quarter for fiscal year 2012 and 2013, and was the 2013 Senior Sailor of the Year for ATG and ATG Pacific.

Briscoe is currently stationed aboard USS Sterett (DDG 104), and is the Engineering, ER Division Leading Petty Officer. He is a recent graduate of Central Texas College where he received an associate’s degree in general studies.


Master-at-Arms 1st Class Petty Officer Raymond Cuevas reported to the Naval Technical Training Center, where he completed Fireman Apprenticeship Training in 2001. After graduation, he reported for duty aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), where he was assigned to the aft main machinery room. During this tour, Cuevas completed two deployments in support of combat operations in U.S. Central Command before converting to Master-at-Arms in 2004. As a Master-at-Arms, his past assignments include Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy; U.S. Army 1-120th Field Artillery Unit; Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion; and Personal Protection Specialist/Body Guard for Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet and Commander, U.S. Navy Forces Central Command, in Manama, Bahrain.

Cuevas currently serves as Command Master-at-Arms and Assistant Antiterrorism/Force Protection Officer aboard USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), and has completed one national tasking order deployment to the Fifth and Seventh Fleet Areas of Operation to support Ballistic Missile Defense requirements. In 2006, he completed an Individual Augmentee tour to Iraq in support of Iraqi Freedom at the Sea Port of debarkation/embarkation.


Master-at-Arms 1st Class Petty Officer Nicholas Fessler reported to his first duty assignment at Mobile Security Squadron Seven, Detachment 73 in Santa Rita, Guam. During this tour, he qualified as an Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. He served as an Embark Security Team Member/Leader, Tactical Operations Center Supervisor and a Phoenix Raven Program Manager. He was also promoted to the rank of 3rd Class Petty Officer and was selected as Mobile Security Squadron Seven, Blue Jacket of the Third Quarter for 2007.

In 2008, he reported to Naval Station Mayport, Fla. During this tour he was promoted to 2nd Class Petty Officer, then 1st Class Petty Officer. He served as a Supply Officer, Training Leading Petty Officer, Command Armorer and the Auxiliary Security Force Coordinator. He was selected as Naval Station Mayport Junior Sailor of the Year in both 2008 and 2010. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

In 2012, Fessler reported aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in Sasebo, Japan. During this tour, he qualified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist. He is currently serving as the Executive Leading Petty Officer and the Command Anti-Terrorism Training Supervisor. He was selected as Bonhomme Richard and Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Expeditionary Strike Group 76, Senior Sailor of the First Quarter 2012.


Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Petty Officer Desmond Johnson reported to USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in 2001. During his tour, Johnson completed two deployments supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was selected as Cook’s Blue Jacket of the Year in 2004 and was promoted to 3rd Class Petty Officer soon after.

In 2006, he transferred to the U.S. Naval War College where he was the Admiral’s Barge Electrician. He also earned his degree in electrical technology at New England Institute of Technology. During this time, he was promoted to 2nd Class Petty Officer and was selected as the Junior Sailor of the Quarter.

In 2008, he reported to Pre-Commissioning Unit Dewey (DDG 105). He was the first 2nd Class Petty Officer aboard to obtain an Engineering Officer of the Watch letter; selection as the Dewey Junior Sailor of the Quarter (2); selection as Destroyer Squadron 21 Junior Sailor of the Quarter; promotion to 1st Class Petty Officer, and the first engineer aboard to qualify as an Anti-Terrorism Watch Officer.

As Leading Petty Officer for the electrical division aboard Dewey, Johnson is in charge of the general upkeep and maintenance of the electrical distribution system.


Quartermaster 1st Class Petty Officer Erika Lira arrived at her first duty station in Manama, Bahrain in 2001. The following year she took orders to San Diego, Calif. aboard USS Comstock (LSD 45). Soon after reporting to Comstock, Lira was promoted to 3rd Class Petty Officer. During this assignment, Lira attended Advanced Damage Control School and a Senior Quartermaster Refresher Course, and earned her Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification after her first deployment. In 2005, she advanced to 2nd Class Petty Officer.

After three deployments in over four years aboard Comstock, she transferred to Assault Craft Unit Five in Camp Pendleton, Calif., serving as a Landing Craft Air Cushion Navigator. Lira completed Navigator school in 2007 and was sent to work in the Operations Department. She completed her first deployment with Detachment Delta in 2008. Lira then became the Lead Navigator for her second deployment with Detachment Charlie in 2011, and was advanced to 1st Class Petty Officer.

After completing the Journeyman Instructor Course in San Diego, Calif., she returned and currently serves as a Navigator Instructor at Assault Craft Unit Five’s Advanced Qualifying Training course.


Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Petty Officer Jeremiah McArthur reported to Field Medical Service School West in Camp Pendleton, Calif. in 1997, where he worked alongside the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon completion, he reported to Preventive Medicine Technician “C” School at Naval School of Health Sciences San Diego. He then transferred to Chemical Biological Incident Response Force in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as a Preventive Medical Technician. In 2001, he transferred to the Inactive Reserves (Florida).

After a brief sabbatical, McArthur transferred to Field Medical Service School East at Camp Lejeune in 2002, where he served as a Formal School Instructor, Preventive Medical Technician, and LPO. During this tour, he earned his bachelor’s degree in health care management at Campbell University. In December 2006, McArthur transferred to Special Operations Training Group in Camp Lejeune, where he served as an Instructor and LPO. He graduated with honors in 2009 from Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) School.

After graduation, he reported to Naval Health Clinic New England at Naval Station Newport, R.I., serving as an IDC and LPO. In 2012, McArthur transferred to Pre-Commissioning Unit Jackson (LCS 6), where he currently serves as the IDC and Administrative Officer.


Legalman 1st Class Petty Officer Raysa Turner reported aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), homeported in Norfolk, Va., where she participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and completed a Mediterranean deployment. She earned her Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualifications, and advanced to 3rd Class Petty Officer. Turner advanced to 2nd Class Petty Officer as she converted to the legalman rating. In 2002, she transferred to the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department in Norfolk, Va.

In 2003, Turner attended LN “A” school in Newport, R.I. Her next duty station was Trial Service Office East, Mid-Atlantic in Norfolk, Va. as a court reporter and paralegal from 2003 to 2006, where she was selected as Sailor of the Quarter. Turner then transferred to USS Tarawa (LHA 1), homeported in San Diego, Calif. While aboard, she earned her associate’s degree in business from Excelsior College in 2006. The following year, she transferred to the Region Legal Service Office Southwest, where she was LPO and court reporter.

In 2009, Turner transferred to Naval Hospital Jacksonville as an Independent Duty Legalman. She advanced to 1st Class Petty Officer and earned her Navy COOL certification in homeland security. She also participated in Joint Task Force Haiti aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Turner was selected as Sailor of the Quarter and nominated as Legalman of the Year for two years in a row. In 2010, she was elected to attend Roger Williams University through the Legalman Paralegal Enhancement Program, and earned her associate’s degree in paralegal studies in 2012. Later that year, she transferred to USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), where she conducted a hull swap with USS Essex (LHD 2) in Sasebo, Japan. Turner is currently the Command Legalman and Departmental LPO. She attained her USMAP certification for paralegal in 2012, and was selected as the 2013 USS Essex Enlisted Woman of the Year and Senior Sailor of the Quarter.


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