NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY PANAMA CITY, (WMBB) — Each year, Naval Support Activity Panama City recognizes many of their members for the work they’ve done on base.
One honor given out is the Senior Sailor of the Year Award.
This year, Culinary Specialist First Class Steven Ashley was given that award and recognized for his contributions on the base and in the community.
“I’m the leading culinary specialist here on base, also I’m the command fitness leader, also I’m part of the diversity committee, also I’m a volunteer mentor at one of the local schools down here at New Horizons, the alternative high school and I’m also the co-lead on the general military training (GMT) that we do here on base as well,” Ashley said.
After hearing the news, Petty Officer Ashley says hearing the news of his win didn’t come by a surprise.
“I know the kind of work I put in, right. I was the runner up last year so I knew if I stayed persistent at, kept doing the things that I did, I knew the acknowledgment would come but if I didn’t get it, I would still be doing all the things I do now.”
Ashley is coming up on year 17 in the Navy. He is originally from Shreveport, Louisiana and Panama City is his 5th duty station.
Ashley says he first wanted to join the service to branch out on his own.
“I always wanted to go to school, play sports but had to be honest about it, like who’s going to pay for college. The big thing for me at the time, I wanted to get some money in my pocket, my own money.”
But looking up to his older brother Anthony, who is also in the Navy, helped spark his interest.
“My brother was a big inspiration for me so he kind of led the charge and we both still in it to this day.”
While the two are older now, Ashley says he still looks to his brother for motivation.
“How we’ve come up in the military, he would make the rank then I would make the rank. He’ll make it, I’ll make it.”
With only one year left in Panama City, Ashley says his next goal is moving up in rank.
“Put on Chief Petty Officer, that’s definitely a goal of mine. My brother actually just put on chief this past year so hopefully come January we’ll be getting some good news here soon,” Ashley said.
While he has his own goals, Ashley says he hopes to help mentor and guide younger individuals he has the opportunity to work with.
“I think a lot of times in the military, the Navy per se, people get caught in doing their job and when you work for certain people, not all the time relationships are established, meaning like a personal relationship. One thing I’ve learned from personal experience as well, if the sailor is not good at home or good in their personal life, they won’t be at good at work, they won’t be able to perform so I just try to effect who I can.”
Ashley says he wants to be the person for someone else he needed during his early years.
“I just wish somebody would’ve done for me coming up in my career, earlier in my career. I didn’t get a mentor until like my 9-10 year mark and that’s kind of late in the game. A few people here are about 4-5 years in, it’s their second command and sometimes being exposed to that right leader could mold a sailor into the model person they want to be,” Ashley said.
Petty Officer Ashley will now represent NSA Panama City at the regional competition. To see what other awards were given out, click here.