Rear Adm. Roy I. Kitchener, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT), announced Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Derek Rish as the 2019 Sea Sailor of the Year and Information Systems Technician 1st Class Chris Manley as the 2019 Shore Sailor of the Year, March 30.
Rish and Manley were chosen from 16 finalists among SURFLANT subordinate commands.
Rish is a native of Raymore, Missouri, and is stationed aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile-cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61). After the announcement, Rish expressed both humility and surprise on the accomplishment.
“This is a great accomplishment for myself, but I really wish I could break it up and share the wealth,” Rish said. “From my own mentors to my most junior Sailors, they all deserve recognition too.”
Manley is a native of Victorvile, California, and is assigned to Naval Surface Force Atlantic. Manley shared many of Rish’s feelings after the announcement.
“I am surprised to say the least and this is a great recognition of many years of hard work,” Manley said. “I still have to strive for excellence and be the best Sailor and mentor I can be. I will savor this moment though with my peers and Sailors.”
Introduced in 1972 by Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, the SOY program is designed to recognize superior performance of Sailors throughout the fleet from paygrade E-4 through E-6. The annual competition is held to recognize individual Sailors who best exemplify the ideals of professional Sailors and the Navy.
SURFLANT Force Master Chief Kevin Goodrich conveyed how Rish and Manley stood out from their competition.
“These winners serve as the premiere example of a first class petty officer,” said Goodrich. “All the finalists are fantastic Sailors, but the winners are the best that [SURFLANT] have to offer and I could not be happier with our choices.”
Rish shared a piece of advice for other Sailors wanting to excel in their career.
“Just always remember that you can’t do everything by yourself,” Rish said “In my 15 years, I have not seen a challenge that as a group, we cannot overcome.”
While Rish focused on teamwork, Manley shared similar thoughts through leadership and mentorship.
“Without junior Sailors, I would not be here,” Manley said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but my leaders mentored and guided me and I will do the same. It isn’t always easy, but we have to keep persevering as a team.”
SURFLANT mans, trains and equips assigned surface forces and shore activities, ensuring a capable force for conducting prompt and sustained operations in support of United States national interests. More than 75 ships and 30 shore commands make up the SURFLANT Force.
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