The U.S. Navy is full of time-honored traditions. Some have origins hundreds of years old while others are much newer. One of those newer traditions is that of the Sailor of the Year, or SOY, competition.
Established in 1972 by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, the SOY program was intended to honor those Sailors at each command who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated professionals who made up the Navy.
When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized, but within ten years the SOY program was expanded to include shore establishments and Navy Reserve Sailors.
Starting Sunday Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) will welcome a select group of Pacific Fleet SOY winners for a week of events. These Sailors have gone through a rigorous selection process that began at their individual commands and may take them straight to the coveted rank of chief petty officer.
At the end of the year, every command selects a single SOY to represent the best of their crew. Through several more rounds of competition those winners are narrowed down to a select few. Eventually the top four SOYs from both sea-going and shore-based commands are selected to be finalists for the top Sea and Shore SOY awards. These four finalists are then invited to participate in SOY Week in recognition of those Sailors who best represent the large number of superior and dedicated professionals within SURFPAC squadrons and shore commands.
Participants will spend time engaging in command events and community outreach activities along with undergoing contestant board interviews. They’ll also attend a variety of personal and professional development sessions at SURFPAC headquarters. While the week of events honors each finalist for their contributions it’s also an opportunity to evaluate their military bearing, professional performance, and leadership skills.
Winners from this round will face one more round of competition before being considered for either Sea or Shore Sailor of the Year for the entire U.S. Navy. Those two winners will then be promoted to chief petty officer.
Follow this week’s activities on the SURFPAC SOY website, and check back next week for a special blog announcing and introducing each of the eight Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet 2015 SOY finalists.