The Oak Harbor Navy League and Rotary Club hosted the 42nd annual awards luncheon for the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Sailors and Marine of the Year at the NASWI Officer’s Club, Dec. 11.
The luncheon recognized the winners, finalists, nominees and families for their outstanding work at their commands and in the local community.
“The ceremony went great,” said NAS Whidbey Command Master Chief Patrick McCullough. “As usual, the Navy League and the Rotary Club of Oak Harbor really put together a great program recognizing the future of the Navy and the Marine Corps.”
The winners were chosen by a board of five master chiefs, including McCullough, who reviewed submissions from individual commands at NASWI, grading them separately before gathering to review all of them together for a decision.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Wayne Papalski took home the Shore Sailor of the Year award for his work at Naval Hospital Oak Harbor and NASWI Search and Rescue (SAR).
“To be honest, it kind of took me by surprise,” said Papalski. “I’m extremely humbled and honored.”
Papalski gives the credit to his fellow team members and the command he works with for his success.
“It’s just recognition for the hard work my team and I do,” said Papalski. “SAR is a pretty unique dysfunctional family but we make it work. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
Members of the board knew the competition was very strong due to many decisions coming down to a narrow margin of separation.
“Out of a 100 point system we were deciding on a one point difference between the winners and non-winners,” said McCullough. “If we could give it to every one of them, we definitely would have because that’s just how tight the competition was.”
The winners received certificates and honors from a variety of local businesses that support the Navy League and Rotary Club.
Sgt. Frank Rodriguez Jr., assigned to Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit, was named 2015 Marine of the Year.
Logistic Specialist 1st Class Rosmond L. Shaw, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130, was named 2015 Sea Sailor of the Year