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Navy Region Sailors Virtually Gather for CNIC Sailor of the Year Announcement

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WASHINGTON - A Racine, Wisconsin native and 2019 American Military University graduate currently assigned to Naval Base San Diego was selected as the fiscal year 2020 Shore Enterprise Sailor of the Year during a Facebook Live event, May 6.

Master-at-Arms 1st Class Erin Ripley was selected from among 70 other installation Sailor of the Year recipients to earn the prestigious award.

“Congratulations to MA1 Erin Ripley, our CNIC Sailor of the Year! Our region and installation Sailors of the Year represent the best of the best and are all deserving of our thanks and admiration,” said Vice Adm. Yancy Lindsey, Commander, Navy Installations Command. “They have accomplished some incredible things in their Navy careers with the encouragement from their families and other support networks. To the families of these incredible Sailors, thank you for your support and service. Thank you for all you do for our Navy and our nation.”

Ripley, representing Commander, Navy Region Southwest, was among the four finalists who went before the CNIC Sailor of the Year board conducted by a panel of senior enlisted leaders.

“There's a phrase we say among each other, ‘Nobody goes undefeated at Naval Base San Diego,” said Ripley. “The pace, volume, scope and tempo are a constant challenge that requires teamwork, and the culture our leadership has developed not only reveals the best in Sailors, but challenges them to grow. There are constant lessons and continual growth.”

The other three candidates who competed for the CNIC award were Master-at-Arms 1st Class Trenton McKibben, from Lady Lake, Florida representing Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central Command; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Elizabeth Bowman, from Athens, Ohio representing Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; and Master-at-Arms 1st Class Tracy Shaw, from Inverness, Florida representing Commander, Navy Region Japan.

“The greatest lessons from growing up in my hometown which has helped me succeed in the Navy is that nothing in life is ever given, you must work hard and earn all that you have,” said McKibben. “After your hard work pays off, it doesn't end there, continue to reach back to those who are still struggling and help them get to where you are or help guide them to strengthen their own path.”

“Serving in the Navy also means that I can pass on my knowledge and the mentor-ship advices to junior Sailors who have the same goal as me 16 years ago and strengthens our Navy for the future Sailors,” said Bowman. “I have learned how to be a team player, a team builder, a motivator and also a leader. The Navy has taught me to be resilient to changes and how to effectively work through those changes, and how to recognize a problem and come up with a way to fix it.”

“When I joined the Navy in 2002, I was a 17 year old shy and quiet girl from a small town,” said Shaw. “The Navy has built me into a Strong and Confident Woman that travels the world.  I have learned not to doubt your capabilities or those of the people around you. The Navy has instilled in me to give 100% in everything I do, no task deserved nothing but excellence.”

Due to COVID-19 health precautions, Sailors conducted their final boards and attended the announcement ceremony virtually. They competed in a final board that tallied traits in job performance, contributions to command climate, peer group involvement, educational accomplishments, physical fitness standards and participation in community service activities.

“A Sailor of the Year has a history of superior performance, contributes to the mission of the command, is dedicated to self-improvement and motivated to succeed and develop those they are privileged to lead,”  said CNIC Force Master Chief Greg Vidaurri. “Basically, they are superheroes without a cape.” 

Ripley has served in the Navy for more than 12 years, starting her naval career as a master-at-arms in 2008. Her previous duty assignments include Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Navy Operational Support Center San Diego; NOSC Springfield, Missouri; Naval Expeditionary Logistics Group Forward Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Naval Station Norfolk; and Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa.

“I'm third generation military and heavily influenced by my father (retired U.S. Coast Guard chief warrant officer),” said Ripley. “I'm not sure I understood at the time, but I saw his level of dedication and affinity working for something bigger than himself. I don't think I ever considered another line of work and it wasn't an expectation he placed on me; I simply recognized I wanted to care as much about my career path as he did. Fast forward to today, that is why I remain serving in the Navy; it isn't just a career, it is a lifestyle and as much a part of my identity as being a mother, daughter, sister, or friend.”

In 1972, the Chief of Naval Operations established the SOY Program to recognize one Sailor who represents the best of the Navy in professional and personal dedication.

By 1982, the program was expanded to recognize four Sailors, two serving at sea in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, a Sailor representing the shore establishments and a Navy Reservist of the Year.

In 2020, the CNO further expanded the program to recognize 18 Sailors which will be meritoriously advanced to the rank of chief petty officer.

Under the CNO, Navy Installations Command is responsible for providing support services for the fleet, fighter and family with more than 52,000 military and civilian personnel under 10 regions and 70 installations worldwide.

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