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NEWS | May 2, 2020

Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year Announced Through Livestream Ceremony

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Nancy diBenedetto

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The 2019 Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year was announced by Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Luke McCollum through a livestream broadcast of the ceremony event from the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., May 2. 
Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 1st Class Amanda Alcantar, assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Five Eight (VR-58), Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., was selected from five finalists as the fiscal year 2019’s top Reserve enlisted Sailor. 
Alcantar, a Salinas, Calif. native, was nominated alongside Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Bradley A. Corr II, assigned to Surgical Company Bravo; Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) 1st Class Calder L. Epes, assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 (HSM 41); Culinary Specialist 1st Class Mark A. Gular, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron One (CRS 1); and Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Christian Martinez, assigned to Assault Craft Unit 1 (ACU 1). 
McCollum commended each of the finalists for their outstanding efforts on behalf of the Reserve force and assured them that every Sailor who makes it to this level is already a winner. 
As the ceremony streamed live across Reserve social media platforms, McCollum and Reserve Force Master Chief Chris Kotz joined the finalists virtually in a distinctly different venue from previous RSOY ceremonies. Finalists and their families previously have traveled to Washington for a week of selection board processes, ceremony events, tours and senior leadership mentorship opportunities. 
This year's virtual platform provided unique challenges to properly interview each finalist. “Given the constraints and the emerging technology that has been provided to us by DoD, I am satisfied that we did the best that we could given the limiting factors of the environment,” Kotz said. “In the past, it was awesome to see the finalists make eye contact with the board members as they answered through the questions. However, that personal touch cannot be replaced.” 
The job of selecting the winner from the five candidates fell to a board of master chiefs chaired by Kotz. The overarching goal of the process Kotz said is to provide to McCollum a thorough briefing on all of the candidates with a focus on transparency. He said the board’s methodology and recommendations for the final selection is provided to give McCollum confidence that due diligence was completed in determining the final nomination. 
The selection however was no easy task. “The margin between these finalists was extremely thin,” Kotz said during the event before handing the presentation over to McCollum for his remarks. 
“We didn’t have a final four this year in basketball, but we had a final five in the Navy Reserve,” McCollum said also acknowledging the difficult task of selecting just one finalist.

You’re all winners today,” said McCollum adding that the finalists were a representation of the entire Navy Reserve team. “It’s a mosaic,” he said. “It’s a mosaic of your employers, of your neighbors, of your families, of your careers and of your sacrifice. And that’s what gives me significant excitement to know that the future of the Navy Reserve is in your hands and in what you represent."

After virtually accepting the award, Alcantar remarked, “The competition on this board was incredible and I am truly humbled to have been selected as this year’s Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year. Thank you to the Reserve Sailor of the Year team for making this board possible despite the effects of COVID-19. I hope I get the privilege to one day shake your hands in person. To my fellow candidates, it has been a true pleasure getting to know you. I wish there was a way to promote all five of us, because all of you are the epitome of a Navy chief and Navy leadership.”

McCollum closed with a challenge for each of the finalists to continue to excel in their own readiness as well as in supporting their own unit readiness. “You all have demonstrated your readiness through the tools the Navy has given you,” he said. “I would just ask that you continue to commit to that readiness challenge, so we can deliver to our nation whenever and wherever our Navy asks our Navy Reserve fighting force warriors to go.” 
Each finalist will be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal by their respective commands once they return to their units. Alcantar will be formally advanced to chief petty officer during the Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year ceremony at a date to be announced later.  
Late Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jack Whittet initiated the Sailor of the Year program in 1972 to recognize outstanding Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors. The program was later expanded to honor the top Shore and Reserve Force Sailors of the Year. 
For 105 years, the Navy Reserve has been a ready, agile force providing valuable, vital support to the Navy and the Nation. The Ready Reserve Force consists of approximately 49,550 Selected Reserve (SELRES) Sailors, 10,163 Full Time Support (FTS) members, 48,815 Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) members and over 422 civilians. This force of over 100,000 delivers strategic depth and unique capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps team, and the Joint Force in times of peace and war.