Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) recently selected its Senior Sailor, Sailor, Junior Sailor and Blue Jacket of the Year, recognized for their professionalism, commitment to duty, leadership and community involvement.
Hospital Corpsman (HM) 1st Class Maria Drew, HM2 Ezechial Fenelon, HM3 Samuel Vallejo Jr. and Hospitalman Peter Kowalski were selected as WRNMMC’s top Sailors for 2013 in December. The Sailors credited their achievements to good mentors, hard work, dedication to the mission and leadership qualities.
A native of Nayarit, Mexico, Drew was the command career counselor for WRNMMC. She recently left the command for a new assignment. She said her selection as Senior Sailor of the Year was in part, “without a doubt, due to having good mentorship from my leaders, the support of my chain of command and the dedication of the Career Development Team. They allowed me the opportunity to be where I am now. Their continuing motivation, led to our successful implementation of the Career Development Program and allowed us to excel beyond the Navy’s standards.”
Drew managed the Career Development Program and Navy Enlisted Retention. “I [worked] alongside a great team of individuals who also share the desire to help Sailors with their careers,” she added. “We [provided] guidance and mentorship with educational opportunities, coordinate reenlistments and provide transition assistance. It is difficult to pinpoint what I [enjoyed] most about my job. There is no better feeling than having the chance to tell a Sailor that [he or she] has received the school they requested, or seeing the proud look on a family member’s face as their Sailor reenlists or retires after many years of dedicated service. These little things make you feel like you had a positive impact, not only on their professional career, but their personal life as well, make every challenge you face worth it.”
In addition to managing the 41-member Career Development Team, Drew also coordinates training for Navy and Army senior enlisted leaders (SEL) on career development boards and retirement and transition to the Fleet Reserve. She also served as vice president of the Joint Forces Six Association, which seeks to build unit cohesiveness to foster a “One Team One Fight” environment. She also volunteered time at a local middle school and elementary school, helping to coordinate activities.
Nominating Drew for Navy Medicine East Sailor of the Year, WRNMMC Chief of Staff Navy Capt. Sarah L. Martin stated, “I have worked alongside HM1 Drew since she assumed the duties of command career counselor and have personally seen and experienced the numerous positive changes she has brought to not only the department, but the entire command. During her tenure as the SEL of the Career Development Department, her resourcefulness, initiative and meticulous supervisory skills have significantly impacted overall productivity. She has greatly increased the morale of enlisted members through her can-do attitude, ability to lead by example and willingness to go above and beyond her expected duties in order to help her fellow shipmates.”
The lead technician at the Armed Services Blood Bank Center, Fenelon earned the Sailor of the Year honors for 2013. “I take care of my Sailors and fulfill the mission,” said the native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “We are the main supplier to military treatment facilities in the region, including the thousands of patients who visit WRNMMC on a regular basis.”
“HM2 Fenelon stands out among his peers within the command and in the Navy,” according to Chief Hospital Corpsman John R. Newsome, a supervisor who recommended him for Sailor of the Year. “While assigned to an area of high responsibility in the laboratory department, he has consistently proven himself as a valuable asset to the department, command and the Navy,” said Newsome. “HM2 Fenelon is an exemplary Sailor and leader who exemplifies ‘Service with Honor.’”
Newsome credits Fenelon with supervising the collection, processing and shipping of an average of 100 blood products every day. Fenelon also served as his department career counselor, a member of the Second Class Petty Officer Association and Commander’s Cup Soccer chairman. He also volunteered at the School of the Deaf and Center for Child Protection, and Haitian Embassy, mentoring young Haitian-American immigrants in Montgomery County.
“My dearest goal is to be a military neurosurgeon,” Fenelon added. “I love military medicine and I vow to be a factor in more scientific developments in the Armed Forces, and a valuable resource to the best military health care system in the world.”
Vallejo, from Brownsville, Texas, is a satellite radiology lead technician at WRNMMC. “I specialize in magnetic resonance imaging, a subset of radiology that creates a 3D image of the human body for all inpatients and outpatients at WRNMMC. What I enjoy most about my job is that it never gets old [and] I am always learning.”
With nearly seven years in the military, Vallejo explained his first four years of service were spent in the Marine Corps as a Fleet Marine Force corpsman. “It was the Marine Corps that molded me into who I am now,” he said. “People tell me it is my work ethic and leadership that make me shine.”
“[Vallejo] demonstrated unparalleled foresight, reshaping a detailed, on-the-job training program that allowed 21 well-trained and motivated civilian and military radiographic students to take ownership while fostering an environment that allowed students and staff members to succeed,” stated Chief Hospital Corpsman Natalie Jianuzzi in nominating him for Junior Sailor of the Year. She added, Vallejo has “a follow-me leadership style and unrivaled work ethic. He is a driving force in the command and a Sailor for others to emulate.”
Kowalski earned WRNMMC’s Blue Jacket of the Year while assigned as a corpsman on the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Although no longer assigned to Walter Reed Bethesda, Kowalski is credited with supervising and training two junior corpsmen while supporting four nurses in the daily operations of the PACU. He also prepared and kept up 28 bays and two isolation rooms, transported 850 patients to the next echelon of care, performed 263 blood draws, 32 electrocardiograms and started 126 IVs. In addition, he taught life supporting skills to 30 staff members.
A volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician, Kowalski was described as “an outstanding Sailor who consistently displayed professionalism and competence in every task he took on.
“He committed himself to setting the example for junior ward Sailors and his peers,” added Chief Hospital Corpsman Sharon Tavares, who nominated Kowalski for Blue Jacket of the Year. “He displays professionalism and courtesy in all interactions, and always lives up to the Navy Core Values.”