VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT) named its 2015 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year (SOY) during a ceremony, March 3, held at the Brashear Conference Center on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class Christopher Roth was named SURFLANT's 2015 Sea SOY and Legalman 1st Class Shallon Davis was selected as Shore SOY. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Roth serves aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) as the leading culinary specialist.
"It's a little surreal to win," said Roth. "It's been a challenge and a privilege, and I feel blessed to have known the competitors here today. If I had it my way, I would take all of them with me to the next level."
Davis is a Naval Surface Squadron 14 Staff and Waterfront paralegal for six surface combatants homeported in Mayport, Florida, and is a native of Patterson, Louisiana. "I'm very grateful to be here. This has been an outstanding week," said Davis. "I met a lot of people. We came together as one from day one and I think that we will be lifetime friends."
All eight finalists went through a week of events highlighting teamwork, heritage and physical fitness. The Sailors met with several admirals and distinguished retired service members to discuss Navy traditions and customs. Then to cap off the selection process, a board was held by several master chief petty officers to select the SOYs.
"It was incredible to see the level of knowledge these Sailors brought to the table," said SURFLANT Force Master Chief Jack Callison. "It just speaks to the level of dedication and how well they lead their Sailors."
Both Roth and Davis will advance to compete for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Sailor of the Year. If Roth earns that title, he will be meritoriously advanced to the rank of chief petty officer. If Davis wins as Shore SOY, she will move on to compete at the Chief of Naval Operation's SOY level.
The SOY program was established in 1972 by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet, to recognize an individual Sailor who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors at each command and ultimately the entire Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within 10 years, the SOY program was expanded to include shore establishments and the Naval Reserve. SURFLANT is one of six type commanders and was established in 1975 as a consolidation of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's cruiser-destroyer, amphibious, and service forces. Today, more than 70 ships and 29 commands make up SURFLANT.