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Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

CNAL Announces Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year for 2021

by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin S. Randol
22 April 2022 NORFOLK, Va. - (April 21, 2022) Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) named the Fiscal Year 2021 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year after a week of consideration, April 21.

CNAL, Rear Adm. John F. Meier, selected and named Logistics Specialist 1st Class Romeika V. Dillingham, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73),  as the Sea Sailor of the Year, and Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Daneil D. Grace, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, as the Shore Sailor of the Year. 

Sailors during Sailor of the Years winner announcement
SLIDESHOW | 4 images | CNAL SOY Week 220421-N-GF276-1175 NORFOLK, Va. (April 21, 2022) - Sailors pose for a group photo after the Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Sailor of the Year announcement. Sailor of the Year candidates are characterized by a history of sustained superior performance, command and mission impact, proven leadership abilities, and outstanding professionalism. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Preston Cash)
Grace, whose name was announced first, reflected on this moment once he heard his name.

 “I remember last year – thinking about this moment – I wanted to go that far, and be Sailor of the Year. It feels amazing,” said Grace, who hails from Jamaica and grew up in Brooklyn. “I want this to bring my junior Sailors up, and show them that if you put in the hard work, it’ll definitely pay off – a breath of fresh air.”

Grace will now compete at the next level of the Shore Sailor of the Year program where he can possibly be selected to win and promoted to the rank of chief petty officer.

Dillingham was addressed as Chief Select upon receiving her award. With her selection as the Sea Sailor of the Year she has been meritoriously advanced to chief petty officer.

“I’m actually on cloud-nine,” said Dillingham, who grew up in both Hammond, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee. “It feels like a win for my team – for all of my mentors and my Sailors, because they are the reason I was selected for Sailor of the Year, so I’m ecstatic.”

CNAL’s Force Master Chief Chris Chelberg congratulated the nominees and reflected on what made the winners, as well as the other candidates, so special.

“I think it’s the pure level of talent,” said Chelberg. “I was impressed from day one, when I met these Sailors, and throughout the board process. The competition was so keen that we were splitting hairs over who should win. I know the Navy is in good hands when I see the caliber of these Sailors.”

Likewise, Meier commended the highly-qualified candidates as a group, and addressed his high expectations for all of them.

“I think everybody in this room knows that there was no easy decision here,” Meier said. “While there are a couple that will probably be Chief sooner than others, I fully expect every one of these individuals to be on the next Chief’s list.”

Dillingham and Grace, along with other Sailor of the Year candidates, spent the week participating in events centered on naval history and heritage, building camaraderie, mentorship, and individual boards testing their military knowledge as part of the CNAL Sailor of the Year program.

“I think the Sailor of the Year program is a huge investment into these Sailors – a huge acknowledgement of the great work they’ve done,” Meier added. “It’s really one of the most exciting things I get to do as a Commander is go through this process, and make a really hard decision at the end of it. If you’ve met these Sailors, you know how outstanding every one of them is, and how competitive this group is.”

Sailor of the Year is a time-honored tradition introduced in 1972 by Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet. This annual competition is held to recognize superior performance of individual Sailors, who best exemplify the ideals of professional Sailors throughout the fleet.

CNAL is responsible for six nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 48,000 officers, enlisted and civilian personnel based on the East Coast of the United States. It provides combat ready, sustainable naval air forces with the right personnel, properly trained and equipped, with a focus on readiness, operational excellence, interoperability, safety, and efficient resourcing.
 
 
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