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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Jan. 25, 2019) Lt. j.g. Pamela Velez, middle, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) supply department, poses for a photo with the supply department leadership during a presentation of the “Eagle” Leadership Award. The dinner was held to celebrate the first awardees of Ford’s Leadership Awards that recognizes one officer, chief petty officer and junior enlisted Sailor who demonstrated sustained superior performance and exhibited exceptional leadership skills in the past year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach)

Ford Recognizes Outstanding Leadership at First Awardee Dinner
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach
USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

VIRIGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Stennis Center for Public Service hosted a dinner to recognize the first-ever awardees as outstanding leaders in three departments aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Jan. 24.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Jan. 25, 2019) Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Kyle Lovett, middle, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) reactor department, poses for a photo with the reactor department leadership during a presentation of the “Bulldog” Leadership Award. The dinner was held to celebrate the first awardees of Ford’s Leadership Awards that recognizes one officer, chief petty officer and junior enlisted Sailor who demonstrated sustained superior performance and exhibited exceptional leadership skills in the past year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach)

Command leadership presented “The Eagle,” “The Wolverine” and “The Bulldog” leadership awards to an officer, a chief petty officer and a junior enlisted Sailor who demonstrated sustained superior performance and exhibited the most exceptional leadership skills over the past year.

“The Eagle” award was presented to Lt. j.g. Pamela Velez assigned to Ford’s supply department, “The Wolverine” award to Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Maurice Bonham assigned to Ford’s air department and “The Bulldog” award to Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Kyle Lovett assigned to Ford’s reactor department.

Rex Buffington, executive director at the Stennis Center for Public Service, attended the dinner and explained how the Stennis Center’s involvement with the commissioning of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) lead to the program’s original founding.

“We got the program started on the Stennis and it really did make a great impact and it proved to be wonderful,” said Buffington. “We have expanded now to eight carriers and it really means a lot to us to be able to recognize and honor these outstanding leaders because they truly do deserve it.”

Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Maurice Bonham spoke about a personal experience that taught him new ways to handle leadership.

“The day before I found out I made chief, I also found out I was diagnosed with larynx cancer. I had very deep voice before that and one of the hardest things for me was not being able to talk the way I used to,” said Bonham. “One of my mentors told me to adjust my leadership style and make sure I was one of the loudest quietest people. I don’t always have to yell because it’s not the volume of the message, it’s the meaning of what you are saying to your Sailors.”

In addition to being recognized for outstanding leadership among their peers, each awardee will attend a trip to Washington, District of Columbia. The purpose of the trip is to gain a better understanding of the role of Congress in setting national security policy and make the awardees more aware of the impact former President Gerald R. Ford made through his leadership.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Jan. 25, 2019) Rex Buffington, executive director at the Stennis Center for Public Service, right middle, presents Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Maurice Bonham, middle, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) air department, with the “Wolverine” Leadership Award. The dinner was held to celebrate the first awardees of Ford’s Leadership Awards that recognizes one officer, chief petty officer and junior enlisted Sailor who demonstrated sustained superior performance and exhibited exceptional leadership skills in the past year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach)

“It is also important to us, for those particularly in Congress, to have the opportunity to see first-hand and understand the quality and character of the men and women who are serving our nation aboard Ford,” said Buffington.

Each aircraft carrier has a similar program, but Ford’s is tailored to honor the legacy of its namesake, President Gerald R. Ford. The “Eagle” is representative of his background as an Eagle Scout, the “Wolverine” represents his link to the University of Michigan; and the “Bulldog” to represent his tie to Yale Law School.

Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.

For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.dvidshub.net/unit/CVN78 or www.facebook.com/USSGeraldRFord