Riverside sailor earns top honors at boot camp

Riverside sailor earns top honors at boot camp
Vice Admiral Mary Jackson, reviewing officer at the Recruit Training Command, gives Steven McAdams a gold watch with the Navy Seal as an award for graduating as Top Sailor on May 31.

Master Chief Petty Officer Kevin Harris of the Bishop Kenny Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) said he was “not surprised” to hear Seaman Steven McAdams of Riverside had received Top Sailor laurels from Recruit Training Command (RTC) Division 216 earning the Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award during a ceremony in Great Lakes, Illinois May 31.

            “I saw he was focused and dedicated to the program here at Bishop Kenny High School,” Harris recalled, noting the 2016 Bishop Kenny graduate was the lead training officer in the school’s ROTC senior year and supervised its competitive drill teams. “He was very outgoing and always looked forward to helping an individual out. He would go out of his way to make sure the freshmen were on track or anybody in the community as far as that goes. He was also our department training officer, which meant he trained the whole unit. Anytime we have one of our cadets excel it puts a big feather in the program itself,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the not-to-far-off future he leaves the enlisted ranks and goes officer.”

            Receiving the award was both a happy and poignant experience for McAdams, who had received news that his father, Christopher McAdams of Riverside, passed away May 6, in the midst of his eight-week boot-camp experience, where his training included physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline.

“I got called down to the chaplain’s office, and he had a Red Cross message saying that my dad had a massive heart attack and passed away soon after,” McAdams said. “I was able to go home and spend a little time with my family. It was incredibly hard to come back to boot camp and stay focused and stay with the training while finding a way to stay mentally tough even when it felt like everything was crumbling around me. All through boot camp I was just trying to survive,” he continued, noting he was especially surprised and honored to receive the award. “I had a lot of stuff that challenged me, and I wasn’t pushing for any sort of award. I was just trying to stay focused on keeping my head up and doing my absolute best for my family back home.”

            Christopher McAdam’s death was totally unexpected and shocked the entire family, said McAdam’s mother, June, noting her husband would be especially proud if he had lived to see his son earn top honors at RTC, an experience more than 35,000 recruits take part in annually.

McAdams and his family celebrated in Great Lakes, Illinois. From left, Victoria Clark, Steven McAdam’s fiancée, Nathan McAdams, Steven McAdams, June McAdams and Aaron McAdams.
McAdams and his family celebrated in Great Lakes, Illinois. From left, Victoria Clark, Steven McAdam’s fiancée, Nathan McAdams, Steven McAdams, June McAdams and Aaron McAdams.

            The Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. It is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing, and teamwork. The award placed McAdams at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors, and he was also awarded a flag letter of commendation for his accomplishments, according to a press release.

            The award comes on the heels of several honors he received as a member of Bishop Kenny’s NJROTC program. As a freshman he received the H.L. Huntley award from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Certificate of Achievement in Naval Science and in community service hours as well as Naval Science Outstanding Cadet and Naval Science Exemplary Conduct honors. Sophomore year he received the Patriotic Leadership Award from the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, the Scholar Athlete Award, the Naval Science II Outstanding Cadet Award and was specially selected to attend the NJROTC Sail Academy in the summer of 2014. Junior Year he received the Stephen Decatur Award from Surface Navy Association as well as Naval Science III Outstanding Cadet and a Certificate of Achievement in Community Service hours award.

While in Bishop Kenny’s NJROTC, he served in the armed and unarmed drill teams, color guard, orienteering team, cadet staff, was freshman training officer in 11th grade and attended its Leadership Academy during the summer of 2014. He also was a member of the school’s Robotics Club, the Brain Brawl Club, the cross country and track teams, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

McAdams attended St. Paul’s Catholic School in Riverside from PK-3 to 8th grade. From 8th grade through high school, he was a member of the St. Paul’s Catholic Church Youth group and did volunteer service throughout his youth including as a counselor at Camp I Am Special. “He always helped with projects at St. Paul’s Catholic School and Church with his dad, especially the school carnival,” remembered June. “They would put up all the tents and games for the carnival.”

            Prior to joining the Navy, McAdams attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola, and graduated from Florida State College Jacksonville with an Associate of Arts degree. While at UWF, he formed a sailing club with his fiancée Victoria Clark of Pensacola.

            “I joined the Navy to chase a dream,” McAdams said. “The Navy has been something that I have always been interested in, especially for the past few years.”

            McAdams will start his Naval career in Pensacola when he trains to become a Cryptologic Technician.

            “I had lots of people push me and motivate me,” McAdams said, noting he credits Recruit Division Commanders, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Rubin Fletcher, Damage Controlman 1st Class Cody Osgood and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Caren Ramirez for their leadership and guidance. “From my fiancée always having my back to all my fellow shipmates that sat down with me one on one and helped me to see that constantly moving forward was the best way to go.”

            His mother agreed. “We are very ecstatic and pleased that he got this honor,” June said. “I’m so very proud of the man Steven has become.”

By Marcia Hodgson

Resident Community News

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