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NEWS | April 20, 2022

Paying it Forward: CNAFR Sailors of the Year Share Advice for Junior Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chelsea Milburn, Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve

When Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve (CNAFR) announced its three Sailors of the Year (SOYs) for the shore, sea and Selected Reserve categories at the CNAFR SOY dinner at the Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill in San Diego Feb 3., all three SOYs took a moment to express their gratitude toward those who had given them advice and support throughout their respective careers. After reflecting on their journeys to becoming SOYs, they chose to pay the support they received forward by offering advice to junior Sailors hoping to one day be in their shoes. Read each of their comments below.
Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (AE1) Jessica Placek
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 56
CNAFR Selected Reserve Sailor of the Year
"Always be your true self. Qualifications, accomplishments, etc all speak to someone on paper but interactions are really what define what someone takes away. We all have different ideas and outlooks, that is what makes our diverse Navy so great. 
 Embrace the opportunities provided to you in life, whether it be personal or professional, to grow both personally and professionally.
Use your growth to fuel others, and encourage them to do the same. 
Be kind to each other and yourself.  Know your strengths and acknowledge your limitations, be humble."
Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class (AD1) Benjamin Teitsort
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 58
CNAFR Sea Sailor of the Year

"Make listening a priority. Remember that it took many people to get you to this point. You are representing all the Sailors that you lead, and the leaders that mentor and place you in positions to succeed. 

Try and bring a positive attitude every day.  A positive attitude can spread and even be the driving force to help all others around have a better outlook on the “how” to approach any tasking that is encountered. It’s also an ingredient that is needed to positively effect the command culture and its climate. 

Surround yourself with positive people that you have mutual desires to support each other's success. These are the people that are going to help push you through the tough, exhausted, or less than motivated times and who are genuinely invested in trying to make any situation better. The same people will be honest with you at times that you need them to, even if it is not what you want to hear, and help you see the opportunity for growth."
Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class (AD1) Kenny Young
Fighter Composite Squadron (VFC) 12
CNAFR Shore Sailor of the Year
"I tell my fellow First Classes and junior Sailors to never stop trying to be better. Know your ‘why.’ Have pride in yourself and in your abilities. As Nipsey Hustle said, “Luck is just bein’ prepared at all times, so when the door opens you’re ready.”
I give [my Sailors] a quote which I live by; “Instead of working for the gold at the end of the road, value the process and see that the road has been paved with gold all along.”
The team is everything. Never be above the less favorable jobs, because shared adversity is one of the best catalysts for building a strong bond amongst a team.
Be humble and respectful. No matter what rank, race, age, gender, or anything, respect people; they keep our Navy running. It takes nothing out of your day to be kind."

CNAFR Command Master Chief Tom Lintz said he was impressed with the level of leadership and professionalism of all the candidates across the three competitive categories.

“These Sailors, our SOYs, certainly know what it takes to be successful,” said Lintz. “It’s clear by their advice each cares about the future of their shipmates and our Navy.These leaders are doing exactly what is needed every day, winning!  Each is leading within their commands, each has invested in developing the technical and institutional knowledge of Sailors, while focusing on warfighting readiness and sustainment.”

Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve mans, trains and equips the Naval Air Force Reserve in order to provide enduring operational support and strategic depth to Naval forces that win in combat.