By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Sloan, USS George Washington Public Affairs
TIMOR SEA (NNS) -- Two Sailors from the "Dambusters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), will receive the 2014 Maintainer of the Year Awards for their respective ratings.
Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Branden Forwood, from Boise, Idaho, and Aviation Structural Mechanic (Safety Equipment) 1st Class Joseph Huguelet, from Ocala, Florida, were selected for the Richard P. James Memorial Award and the Douglas L. Scott Memorial Award, respectively, after a nomination by their commanding officer, Cmdr. David Pollard.
"They repeatedly prove themselves as a cornerstone of my squadron's maintenance effort, through commitment to duty, professional expertise and leadership," said Pollard.
According to Lt. Michael Willis, VFA-195's safety officer, Forwood and Huguelet receiving the awards simultaneously is indicative of the squadron's mission readiness. He added that it is rare for any Sailor to receive these awards because they are Navy-wide recognitions.
"We have a lot of Sailors who are good at their jobs, a lot who are good at organizational skills, a lot of leaders and a lot who do community service," said Willis. "But Huguelet and Forwood are among the few Sailors who excel at all those things."
In addition to being well-rounded, technical experts in their respective fields, the maintainers attributed their success to the squadron's teamwork and mentorship.
"It was all about bringing out the best in my shipmates and having everybody work together," said Huguelet. "I knew what I needed to do and I knew that my success would be impossible without the proper mentorship and the help from my shipmates."
As a final word of advice to junior Sailors who want to succeed, Huguelet emphasized that finding a proper source of motivation played a key role in his success.
"Every time I hear a jet launch, I love knowing that I did my best to take care of that aircraft," he said. "I know that I maintained the safety equipment that will give the pilot a final way out in emergency scenarios."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The ship will conduct a hull swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year, after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.