GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class James R. Lee Jr. was selected as the 2013 Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) Sailor of the Year (SOY) at a luncheon ceremony held in the Port O' Call Banquet and Conference Center on Naval Station Great Lakes here, Feb. 28.
The four MPT&E SOY finalists included Lee from Naval Education and Training Command (NETC); Yeoman 1st Class Tiffany N. Summers, from Navy Personnel Command (NPC); Yeoman 1st Class Dewayne L. Toon, from the Chief of Naval Personnel office; and Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Gemmy W. Tyson II, from Navy Recruiting Command.
Lee and the other three MPT&E finalists also participated in an interview process conducted by MPT&E Force Master Chiefs, mentored recruits at Recruit Training Command (RTC) and students at Training Support Center (TSC) and toured various Chicago sites and attractions, including an on-court recognition by the Chicago Bulls professional basketball team on the Bulls home floor at the United Center in downtown Chicago.
The announcement was made at the luncheon following the week tours and visits by the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP), Vice Adm. William F. Moran, who oversees all commands in the MPT&E domain.
"This is a great group of candidates," Moran told the luncheon audience. "It's not about being number one, and I think they all agree with that. They don't care. It was not about their personal achievements. It's all about their Sailors. It's about their service and something greater than themselves. And that's what makes you (to the four candidates) the best choices."
Lee said he was very humbled by the selection. "It feels amazing and I was definitely surprised being named the MPT&E Sailor of the Year," said Lee, 28, from Searcy, Ark., the Leading Petty Officer at the Center for Information Dominance (CID) Learning Site in San Diego. "I'm from a small command and I never thought I could make it to MPT&E but it is totally possible and it just opens the door for anyone from any command to really do this."
Lee credited his command, his mentors and the Sailors that work for and with him for getting the 11-year Sailor this far in the annual competition. His next step will be to go through the Chief of Naval Operations Shore Sailor of the Year competition in Washington, D.C. If he is selected, he will automatically promote to Chief Petty Officer.
"The contributions of my subordinates and peers alike were big," said Lee. "It was our cohesiveness as a unit and our camaraderie as a command. We got together and made things happen for our community, for our command and for the Sailors we were teaching."
CNP and MPT&E Fleet Master Chief April Beldo called the week outstanding and said it was equally special to have the week at Great Lakes, "The Quarterdeck of the Navy".
"It was awesome watching them mentor our junior Sailors and recruits at TSC and RTC, they got to have some fun in Chicago and they remained humble and very professional the entire week," said Beldo, who has served as command master chief at RTC and at the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) headquarters on Naval Station Great Lakes. "For me it was very exciting."
Beldo said bringing the finalists back to Great Lakes was an opportunity to remind them where their Navy careers began. She said most of the finalist have been in the Navy now for 10 years and coming back to Great Lakes was an opportunity to reacquaint the finalists, the other force master chiefs from the MPT&E domain and supporting staff with the training at the "A" Schools and, in particular, the training being conducted today at boot camp.
"We have made some changes in the training at TSC and RTC and a lot of Sailors in the fleet today don't know what kinds of changes have occurred over the last few years," said Beldo. "I believe whenever we get an opportunity to bring fleet Sailors back to RTC, we should. This SOY week was perfect to bring these Sailors back to see the changes in training and then they can take what they saw back to their commands in the fleet and let their commands know that the group of trainers, instructors, Recruit Division Commanders and [Commander, Navy Recruiting Command] folks are all doing their jobs of getting Sailors trained so when they cross the quarterdeck of their next command in the fleet they are ready to go."
The other finalists agreed with Fleet Beldo on how important it was to occasionally return to Great Lakes to observe the training of new recruits and Sailors.
"I absolutely loved the entire week," said Tyson. "I wish we could do this all the time. I think this week illustrated the importance of taking care of your Sailors, motivating your Sailors and making the Navy a better place for your Sailors."
Summers said she really appreciated all the work that went in to acknowledging this year's MPT&E SOY finalists.
"This week instilled in me to make sure I take care of my Sailors just as the people that put together this week took care of us," said Summers.
Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., was the host of the MPT&E SOY Week.
Mewbourne and his NSTC staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes RTC, the Navy's only boot camp; the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities; Officer Training Command (OTC) on Naval Station Newport, R.I.; and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.