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Posted on: September 1, 2022

NAS Whiting Field selects Air Traffic Controllers as Sailors of the Quarter

Petty Officer 1st Class Saeed Holmes, Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Dame, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Collin Heckler were selected Sailor, Junior Sailor, and Blue Jacket of the Quarter, respectively.


To be selected as Sailor of the Quarter, these individuals must embody “a history of sustained superior performance, command impact, mission contribution, proven leadership, dedication to self-improvement, outstanding professionalism, and superior personal appearance,” according to Navy instruction. The factors reviewed include: candidates consistently demonstrate exceptional performance and personal standards. They exhibit passion for improving the lives of those around them, both within the workplace and the community. They prove to be not only excellent learners, but profound leaders as well.


This quarter’s awards are of particular note as it is the first time in recent history that the Air Traffic Control department has swept all three awards. Departmental sweeps of awards are infrequent as a whole, and reflect well on the cohesion and performance of the departments that accomplish a sweep.


Holmes, who hails from Newport News, Va., serves as a publication training instructor, as well as a crew lead petty officer. He is also a fully qualified Facility Watch Supervisor (FWS). In addition, he serves as a Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) instructor, a position normally held by a chief petty officer. Aside from training new air traffic controllers, his responsibilities include filing flight plans, amending flight routes, radar operations and air traffic controlling.


The importance of a competent crew is not lost on Holmes. “I like to have my work speak for itself. This is big because my department put me up for it which means they see something in me as well as my Sailors. As an LPO, most of my success comes not from me, but because my Sailors do good things. This is a big win for the whole department; it’s been the goal since I checked in.”


Dame, a Panama City, Fla. native, stood out this quarter while serving as the starboard crew lead petty officer as well as a fully qualified FWS. Apart from manning radars and communications, his duties include assuring that his crews’ watches are fully manned each day. Despite the focus and effort involved in the daily tasking of an air traffic controller, Dame said, “This feels good. I’ve put in a lot of hard work, and it’s nice to be recognized. It’s awesome that we all work hard-- we’ve got a good group of Sailors on both crews that flow well and meet goals.”


Heckler’s hometown is Plainfield, Ind. He is working to get qualified in multiple aspects of air traffic control to become a full FWS. He is honored to be named BJOQ, but is not letting it distract him from the pursuit of his professional goals. In response to the departmental sweep of the quarterly awards, Heckler commented, “It’s pretty cool [that we swept] but I’m not surprised. Everyone that was put up works well and has good packages and everybody has helped me get here. It’s rewarding to come to work every day and get the job done.”


The air traffic control division is delighted with the performance of their Sailors. “The ATC Division is extremely proud of our Sailors for taking a clean sweep in the third quarter. Our Sailors were recognized for their hard work and [for] holding positions normally held by Sailors of the next higher rank,” said Chief Petty Officer David Shoemaker.


NAS Whiting Field congratulates these three exceptional Sailors for their success and contributions to a critical national defense mission.

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