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NEWS | Feb. 27, 2015

CENTCOM's Top Performers Recognized

By U.S. Marine Cpl. Jordan Belser

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (February 27, 2015) – U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) awarded its top service members and civilians at a ceremony today.

CENTCOM Chief of Staff Army Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca recognized the award winners at the Vincent Tolbert building on the CENTCOM campus.

“They say only one percent serve in the military,” said Greca. “It’s an honor to be here ... and recognize the one percent of that one percent. We couldn’t do what we do without the men and women in uniform here today.”

“I feel so honored to receive this award,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Marcus R. Bates, a Geospatial Intelligence Collection Manager and CENTCOM’s junior service member of the year. “It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family, and it means a lot to the people I work with. I’m humbled.”

Since his arrival at CENTCOM in 2013, Bates says he has done his best to set the example of what an NCO should look like. He also offers advice to junior enlisted personnel who are looking to achieve their goals.

“Never let setbacks get the best of you,” says Bates. “Always find a way to achieve what it is in life you desire.”

Technical Sgt. John R. Verrecchio, an Operations Intelligence Craftsman and CENTCOM’s senior enlisted service member of the year, realizes it takes a good support system to make it to the top.

“I have great leadership above me, and a solid team of analysts working with me which enabled me to reach my goals,” said Verrecchio. “While this is an individual award, it is really a team effort and I would not be here without them.”

The Okeechobee, FL native knows the real objective is making sure CENTCOM’s mission is realized.

“People are an organization’s most valuable asset,” said Verrecchio. “My accomplishments are a direct result of having an outstanding team of professionals working to accomplish the mission and improve the CENTCOM organization.”

CENTCOM is comprised of many different sections, otherwise known as directorates. Each directorate nominates one junior and one senior service member to participate in the competition.

Candidates appear before a board where they are judged on military appearance, bearing, drill movements, and general military knowledge. Other factors include community service, leadership, and performance in their respective jobs.

Every service member of the year begins as a service member of the quarter. After winning their board for service member of the quarter, troops compete against other quarterly winners to determine who will win the yearly award.

Once selected by the board, the winners are recognized by CENTCOM, the MacDill Air Force Base community and several businesses and non-profits throughout the southwest Florida region. Winning service members receive gifts from the community ranging from gift cards to car washes. Garrett says it’s an indication of the strong support service members receive from the local community.

“We’re very fortunate to be living in an area like Tampa Bay,” said Garrett. “The recognition these award winners will receive would not be possible without the generous support from the community.”

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Ernest Govea, a Joint Logistics Plans Officer, recognized the deep pool of talent from which the award winners were selected.

“There are so many highly qualified and talented individuals working at CENTCOM,” said Govea. “Just being nominated for this award was a great honor. I wouldn’t be here today without my family and the people I work with.”

Govea, a prior enlisted Marine from Alhambra, California, says CENTCOM is one of the most challenging and rewarding places to be. He notes there are a few things every service member can do that will allow them to be successful.

“First, strive to do the basics right every time,” stressed Govea. “Secondly, be an engaged and informed leader. Finally, take initiative and lead by example, follow-through, help others around you succeed and accomplish the mission.”

The following awards were also presented:

  • Civilian of the Year – Category 1 (GS 1-10) – Mr. Nicholas Burgess
  • Civilian of the Year – Category 2 (GS 11-13) – Mr. Jonathan Shaw
  • Army Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year – Staff Sgt. Brian Kohl
  • Senior Sailor of the Year – IS1 Ryan Beckner
  • Junior Sailor of the Year – YN2 Christian R. Alvarez
  • Blue Jacket of the Year – IS3 Emily L. Biedermann
  • Airman of the Year – Senior Airman Rafael Jennings
  • Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year – Tech. Sgt. Juan I. Lopez
  • Senior Airman of the Year – Master Sgt. Curtis A. Childers
  • Air Force Company Grade Officer of the Year – Capt. Philip T. Tice
  • Air Force Field Grade Officer of the Year – Maj. Derrick C. Michaud
  • CENTCOM Spouse of the Year – Mrs. Tony L. Carson

The top Air Force, Navy, and junior and senior troops and officers were selected by boards made up of senior personnel specific to each service.