GREAT LAKES, Ill. — Seaman Recruit Jacob Sanchez, a Santa Cruz, California, native, graduated as top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 802, earning the Military Excellence Award on November 30.
Sanchez said he is honored and humbled to be receiving the MEA.
“Receiving the MEA is a great honor, and to me it is a representation of what hard work and discipline can accomplish,” he said. “Winning this award, to me, means that I have even more of a reason to continue to strive for excellence in everything that I do.”
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed Sanchez at the pinnacle of today’s newest Sailors; he was awarded a flag letter of commendation for his achievements.
Sanchez, 24, said he joined the Navy to have a career in which he can impact people’s lives.
“I am blessed to have been born into a country where there are many freedoms and opportunities that people in other parts of the world have never experienced,” Sanchez said. “I want to not only protect that way of life in America, but also hope to help those living in oppression throughout the world.”
Sanchez graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo California with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. While in college and the years following, Sanchez worked for the United States Forest Service and Santa Barbara County Fire Department as a wildland firefighter.
Sanchez credited his Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Rodney Rozier, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Alfredo Sosa, and Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jorge Monarez for their leadership and guidance.
He also acknowledged the support and motivation he received from his parents, Benny and Patricia Sanchez.
“Both been very supportive of the path I have chosen to take,” Sanchez said. “All my life, I have been taught to work hard at everything I do and to always try to learn from my mistakes. I believe that my upbringing and the constant support I continue to receive from my parents has led me to being able to excel here in boot camp and hopefully in my future endeavors as well.”
Sanchez said maintaining focus was one of the lessons he learned at boot camp.
“Sometimes, you might be doing the same thing every single day for a week — such as drilling the same routine or going over the same uniform inspection,” he said. “At times, I would feel like it might be OK to slack off a little some days. I always had to remind myself that no matter how menial the task may seem, every task has a purpose and that lessons can be learned in any given moment.”
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 30,0000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
Sanchez is assigned the rate of special warfare operator. After graduation, he will attend the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes. Special Warfare Operators perform a multitude of duties in support of special operations missions and operate on, under and from the sea, in the air and on land.
These duties require skills in combat diving, paradrop and air operations, small boat operations, submarine and submersible operations, land warfare, small unit tactics, mounted and dismounted operations, small arms and crew served weapons, explosives, communications, tactical medicine, mission planning, intelligence gathering and interpretation, joint and combined operations, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense measures in all environments including urban, desert, jungle, arctic, and mountain warfare.