By Darryl Orrell, Center for Security Forces Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) announced its 2014 selection for Sailor of the Year Nov. 4.
Capt. Raymond Benedict, the center's commanding officer, hailed all hands to congratulate Master-At-Arms 1st Class Kojiro Thomas of Naval Technical Training Center Lackland as the Center's 2014 Sailor of the Year (SOY).
"Petty Officer Thomas' performance as a Sailor makes him a tremendous asset to the command," said Benedict. "His positive attitude, motivation and extensive knowledge of not only the military working dog (MWD) program, but Navy career information make him an excellent role model for his peers and place him at the forefront of mentoring Sailors and MWD handlers."
Thomas, who is a native of Aurora, Colorado, is a master training specialist at Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Lackland. NTTC Lackland is home to the Navy's Master-at-Arms (MA) apprenticeship or "A" School where Thomas began his career as an MA. He is operationally assigned to the U.S. Air Force 341st Training Squadron, which is also based at Lackland Air Force Base. The squadron provides trained military working dogs and working dog handlers for the Department of Defense that support security efforts worldwide.
"This selection is an honor," said Thomas. "I believe personally and professionally that being selected as SOY shows the hard work and dedication I have given along with that of my family and my command and I would not be SOY without their support."
"MA1 Thomas rose to the top from a group of talented Sailors at Master-at-Arms "A" School and within the CENSECFOR domain," said NTTC Lackland Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Bart Fabacher. "He has a presence that goes beyond just delivering curriculum. He is emotionally invested in taking the raw material of Sailors eager to learn and transforming them into world-class forces ready to join the nation's Fleet. There are no limits to what he is capable of achieving and we are intensely proud of this recognition."
Offering advice to his fellow Sailors throughout the Fleet Thomas said, "Ensure that you work hard every day even when you think no one is watching. Never let anyone tell you that something is out of reach because any goal you set for yourself can be yours."
Thomas enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Eaglecrest High School in June 2003. To date, his naval career has taken him around the world serving in various assignments. Assignments that have taken him from serving as watch commander at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state; to conducting detainee operations at Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; to serving as a MWD handler at Fleet Activities Sasebo in Japan.
Asked if his selection as SOY has given him renewed determination for achieving even higher goals Thomas said, "My selection hasn't renewed my determination, it's always there. I would do my best every day even if I were not selected. I do have higher goals that I would like to achieve and my next career milestone will be my selection for chief petty officer."
Thomas will now advance to the next round of competition where he will compete against the best of the best within the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC). There, one Sailor will be selected to carry the elite title of NETC 2014 Sailor of the Year.
The NETC SOY program recognizes those Sailors who exhibit sustained superior performance and it is open to Sailors in the ranks of E-4, E-5 and E-6 who served in the NETC domain during the calendar year.
"I would like to thank everyone for the leadership, guidance and support that has helped me to get where I am at today," expressed Thomas in his closing comment.
The Center for Security Forces provides specialized training to more than 28,000 students each year. It has 14 training locations across the United States and around the world.