"It’s super intense. The room is thick. You can hear yourself breathing,” said Legalman 1st Class Diamond Harris as she describes the atmosphere of the Sailor of the Year board process on board the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40).
Harris experienced this for the first time in 2016, after only six months on the ship. Dressed in her summer whites with sweaty palms and an apprehensive mind, she walked into a room full of master chiefs. In spite of the intimidation, all candidates are expected to remain poised, use facing movements and begin the board by reciting the Sailor’s Creed.
“It sets the tone,” said Harris. “Even though people say the Sailor's Creed every day, every morning, for whatever reason when you get in that room and you have to say the Sailor's Creed you can’t remember the words. It has to become muscle memory.”
Once Harris got passed the Sailor’s Creed, she took a seat and did her best to answer all questions that were presented to her. Since this was her first time participating on the board, she said she was not surprised with the outcome.
“I knew that I was not going to win so I did not feel any type of way in particular,” said Harris. “I just learned from the experience and used what I learned to prepare for the board this year.”
Equipped with the experience and knowledge of what is expected from a first class petty officer on the Frank Cable, Harris set out to better herself. During the following year, she accepted many collateral duties such as Assistant Command Fitness Leader, Enlisted Surface Warfare Coordinator and Damage Control Training Team. Harris also participated in the First Class Petty Officer Association and CPO-365 program.
“My hand was in a little bit of everything,” said Harris. “I wanted to make sure I knew what the command wanted from junior sailors as well as myself so that I would be able to have any input if needed.”
Harris said she had a lot of advice from her fellow first class petty officers as well as senior leadership. In particular, Chief Master at Arms Carlos Slade had a major impact on her progression as a Sailor and as a human being. “
He was my Leading Chief Petty Officer. Every day he was on me, he tasked me and he helped me,” said Harris. “Especially during Dry-dock Planned Maintenance Availability; that was a really challenging time for me. He made sure that I kept my eye on the prize and didn’t fall short of the ultimate goal.”
Slade described Harris as a humble and selfless person, who cares about Sailors and is very loyal to her chain of command.
“Well to be specific last year when she signed her evaluation, we sat down and established goals for her to accomplish,” said Slade. “I told her if you do this, get involved in that, take care of this you can be Frank Cable’s Sailor of the Year next year. She laughed and told me ‘Chief I don’t believe that, yeah right’. I told her watch just wait and see. A year later, I guess I can say I was influential to her. Although she may say I am very annoying and worrisome, but it paid off.”
In October, Harris prepared for round two. She had now been on board for a year and a half and was heavily involved in the command, so expectations were higher than they had been one year prior. She entered into that now familiar stressful atmosphere. The barrage of questions competed with the pounding in her chest for her attention. Each question seemed to be more complex than the last. Some did not have a right answered. Instead, they were targeted to test the candidates’ reaction. Harris remained poised, answered each question with conviction, and walked out of the room knowing that she did her best. About three weeks later, she found out she was named Sailor of the Year for the entire command.
“I walked around and asked leadership why,” said Harris. “I was surprised. The person I went against is an awesome person. Whatever I did, it got me here and now I’m grateful for it.”
Harris described the Sailor of the Year board as an enlightening experience. It shows what the navy looks for in a sailor and what is expected out of leadership. The Sailor of the Year board is preceded by the Sailor of the Quarter board. This provides many opportunities for any Sailor to step up, accept the challenge and achieve recognition for their hard work.
Frank Cable, currently in Portland, Ore., for a scheduled dry-dock maintenance availability, is home-ported in Guam and conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. For more information on Frank Cable, find us on Facebook at USS Frank Cable (AS 40), or http://www.csp.navy.mil/frankcable