CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy distributed the first Lt. Cmdr. Regina Pearl Mills Leadership Award during an award ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) Aug. 9.
More than 500 Sailors from the Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AB) community assembled on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) for the ceremony.
The award was presented to Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Saleema N. Massey.
"I'm excited," said Massey. "I didn't expect it. It's a very big thing for me. My heart is still racing. I was really close to Regina. I was here for both her tours on Nimitz and she did my last reenlistment. Having this award means a lot."
During the ceremony, Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Mill's, Regina's husband, addressed the crowd of AB's.
"A few weeks after my wife's death I was contacted by members of the Aviation Boatswain's Mate Association (ABMA) to discuss a way in which we can honor Regina's memory," said Mills. "The decision was made by the ABMA Board of Directors to create this award. I cannot thank the ABMA enough."
Mills added that the purpose of the award is to recognize the outstanding leadership in the AB community.
Regina's daughter, Cherie Ayer, also attended the ceremony to assist in presenting the award.
"[The ceremony] was really touching for me," said Ayer. "I'm really glad the award went to Massey. She's a great person and she deserves it. I'm glad everyone was able to get together on Nimitz. There's a lot of history on this ship. I'm glad to be here."
Regina reported for her second tour aboard Nimitz in December 2009 to serve as the Navy's first female aircraft handling officer. She is known for her strength, determination and tremendous leadership during her tours, said Mills.
Regina was struck and killed by a vehicle when she stopped to assist others involved in a traffic collision in Gig Harbor, Wash., Jan. 23, 2012.
Nimitz recently arrived at NASNI after successful completion of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012.