JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.
Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Maria English, a petty officer first class attached to Fleet Readiness Center East Detachment McGuire, recently earned the title of 2020 Navy Reserve Force Shore Sailor of the Year. The Navy Reserve announced the award March 22 on behalf of Chief of Navy Reserve and Commander, Navy Reserve Force Vice Adm. John Mustin.
“We could not be more proud to have AT1 English as part of the FRC East team,” said Cmdr. Ian Espich, officer in charge of FRCE Det. McGuire. “Her selection as the Commander, Navy Reserve Force Full Time Support Sailor of the Year only confirms what we already know here: Her efforts as an aviation electronics technician and production control leading petty officer, and her mentorship of junior service members, make her a readiness multiplier and a true asset to the fleet. She is a true professional and I’m just so grateful that she is being recognized for it at so many different levels.”
On the way to earning the title of CNRF Sailor of the Year, English first took top honors as the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Shore Sailor of the Year – the first full-time support Sailor to win the award – and Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve Sailor of the Year. The whole experience has been incredibly humbling, she said.
“I’m so grateful to all those who have guided me and believed in me over the years,” she said. “I represent so much more than myself, and winning is the ultimate affirmation of all that has been invested in me. I have the most sincere gratitude for everyone who has ever taken the time to guide, mentor or train me, and also for those who have allowed me to guide, mentor and train them.”
A native of Lancaster, Ohio, English began her Navy career as an active-duty aviation electronics technician in 2006 and, in early 2010 as an aviation electronics technician third class, submitted a request to transition from active-duty to full-time support. The request was approved and English reenlisted into the full-time support community May 5, 2010, when she received orders to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 64 (VR-64). She has been attached to FRCE’s detachment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst since October 2017 and in June reenlisted for six additional years, which will take her to 20 years of service.
In her duties as an aviation electronics intermediate level technician, English maintains, repairs, troubleshoots and inspects a vast array of mission navigation, radar and communications avionics equipment. As the production control leading petty officer at FRCE Det. McGuire, she oversees the production efforts of nine divisions and liaises with the Quality Assurance Department in order to ensure timely and quality work products in accordance with the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program.
English said she takes great pride in her work and her role as a mentor to junior service members, with a leadership philosophy of “respect and empathy always, with unfailing integrity through mental toughness.”
“There is nothing more fulfilling than mentoring, guiding and training junior Sailors and Marines, and I take a lot of pride in knowing that I have made a positive impact on their lives, whether it be in a personal or professional nature,” English explained. “In regards to the technical aspect of my job, there is no better accomplishment than troubleshooting and solving a difficult avionics mystery.”
Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Michael Hopf, the detachment’s maintenance senior chief petty officer and English’s immediate supervisor, said her professionalism and knowledge are what set English apart from the crowd.
“Her title is production control leading petty officer but, due to a manpower shortage, she has been standing in as the production control chief,” he explained. “She directs the maintenance efforts of the entire command. Additionally, she has a wealth of knowledge in her rating; she is the go to for all calibration or avionics issues.
“Shortly after working with her, I found that I don’t have to worry or follow up on tasks getting completed – she has it for action,” Hopf continued. “Also, share cares for her coworkers and makes sure that they are doing well.”
English became an aviation electronics technician “by chance,” she said – the same way she ended up enlisting in the Navy in the first place.
“My main motivation for enlisting in the Navy was independence, and the fact that I ended up in the Navy was pure chance,” she remembered. “The Navy recruiters were the only recruiters in the office on the day that I came in. With that being said, I do believe it was fate. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else at this point in my life.”
Although English didn’t know anything about ratings when she enlisted, the result of her Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery made her eligible for several options, and the “AV” aviation electronics rating seemed the most interesting to her. The AV field offers aviation electronics intermediate level technician, aviation electronics organizational level technician and aviation electrician options, and a recruit’s path is decided in boot camp, when orders are issued.
English indicated her growth as a Sailor has come from the support of many mentors and leaders along the way.
“I have so many people to thank, but I’d really like to give special thanks to my current chain of command, as well as my previous chief and mentor, Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Scott Means,” she said.
While off-duty, English focuses her time on her family: five children and husband, Chief Naval Aircrewman Mechanical Parris English, who is also a full-time support Sailor assigned to VR-64.
“As a mother of five, my hobbies and interests have been mostly limited to the hobbies and interests of my children, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “Being a mother has been the main focus of my time spent off duty.”
English will take part in a “paper board” April 30 to compete for a seat as a finalist in the Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year interview board.
FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot maintains permanent sites at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, and Beaufort, South Carolina, and generates combat air power for America’s Marines and naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.