By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (EXW) Jennifer A. Villalovos
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The 2009 Sailor of the Year winners, who for the first time in history are all women, were meritoriously advanced to Chief Petty Officer during a ceremony held at the Navy Memorial July 22.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead was the guest speaker at the pinning ceremony hosted by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ingrid Cortez, U.S. Fleet Forces Sea Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shalanda Brewer, Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year; Operations Specialist 1st Class Samira McBride, U.S. Pacific Fleet Sea Sailor of the Year and Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Cassandra Foote, Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year were each presented their chief petty officer appointment letter from the CNO prior to having their anchors pinned to their collars and combination covers placed on their heads.
"What I like most about this program is that these four Sailors know the Navy appreciates their dedication and performance, and expects even more of them in the future," said Roughead. "Their advancement today is an affirmation of the potential the Navy sees in them as future Chief Petty Officers and senior enlisted leaders at their next commands."
Before the anchors were pinned on the Sailors of the Year, West spoke about the great honor of earning the title of "Chief" and the privilege of leading Sailors while wearing the chief anchors on their collars.
"This is a great day for our Navy, and today we are making history with all for Sailors of the Year being women. These Sailors have proven themselves as professional Sailors, experts in their rates, role models to our junior Sailors and youth, and most importantly, true leaders," said West.
Families, friends and shipmates traveled from around the world to attend the ceremony to share the highlights of their accomplishments and achievement on making chief petty officer.
"A lot is expected of us, and it's a greater responsibility, but we are going to lead our Sailors and keep doing what we've been doing," said Cortez after the advancement ceremony. "This was such an awesome experience. I feel like I'm on top of the world, and it's just incredible."
The Sailors of the Year and their families toured the White House, visited historical sites around D.C., meet with residents at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and attended special events held in their honor throughout the week before their advancement ceremony.
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972 by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet to recognize an individual Sailor who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and ultimately the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within ten years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.