JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
A San Antonio native who coordinates college scholarship programs for future Sailors has been selected as Sailor of the Year for Navy Recruiting District San Antonio.
Petty Officer 1st Class Juan Amaya was picked by a board of Sailors within NRD San Antonio for the award, which recognizes one petty officer within a Navy command who bests represents the Navy through both professional and personal dedication.
The award was based on Amaya’s accomplishments at NRD San Antonio in 2017.
Amaya, NRD San Antonio Navy ROTC program coordinator, was one of four service members within NRD San Antonio nominated for Sailor of the Year.
Sailors are nominated for the award by members of their leadership team within the department they serve in their command. Sailor of the Year nominees are evaluated by a board of senior Sailors using criteria including professional development, leadership, military bearing and personal growth.
Amaya said winning the award has made him want to do better in his service to NRD San Antonio.
“It’s one of those feelings knowing I’m doing my best to get recognized by command,” Amaya said. “It’s one of those things that makes me want to strive for higher goals.”
Amaya assists high school and freshmen college students in applying for Navy ROTC scholarships. The scholarships help cover the costs of education for students enrolled in Navy ROTC programs at the college of their choice. After graduating from college, the students are then commissioned as officers in the Navy.
“My main job is to assist students in pursuing and furthering their education,” he said. “Because with them going on to become naval officers, they are going to be our next leaders.”
As the Navy ROTC program coordinator, Amaya is on the road often, visiting several schools through NRD San Antonio, which covers 120,000 square miles from South and Central Texas to parts of West Texas to the Rio Grande Valley. NRD San Antonio includes the San Antonio and Austin metro areas, as well as the cities of Midland, San Angelo, Waco, Killeen, Corpus Christi, McAllen and Brownsville.
Amaya grew up in San Antonio, graduating from Judson High School in 2005. He enlisted in the Navy eight years ago and after completing basic training, he did his technical training for two years at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, at Goose Creek, S.C.
Once he completed his technical training, Amaya was assigned to the U.S.S. Cheyenne, a nuclear submarine based at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as a nuclear mechanic. He served for four years on the submarine, helping to maintain the ship’s propulsion plant powered by nuclear energy and making potable water for the ship’s crew through reverse osmosis.
In 2016, Amaya went into the recruiting field when he took his orientation in Navy recruiting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.
After completing his orientation, he was given the opportunity to work in his hometown and be close to his family when he was sent to NRD San Antonio in December 2016.
Since arriving at NRD San Antonio, Amaya has worked in three duty positions in the unit. He started out as the Delayed Entry Program coordinator, overseeing future Sailors before they entered boot camp, or basic training. Amaya was then promoted to nuclear field scout, assisting and doing presentations for high school students who were interested in going into the Navy nuclear engineering program.
He has served as the Navy ROTC program coordinator since September 2017.
Amaya said he likes traveling to the many schools within NRD San Antonio, telling students about his experiences in the Navy and answering questions those students have about life in the Navy.
In addition, he gets to interact with teachers, school administrators and parents of students while visiting those schools. He said he goes on school visits at least twice a week.
“You definitely meet people with different backgrounds and you get to instill your knowledge and be able to learn from them as well,” Amaya said.
Whether it’s serving as a nuclear mechanic on a submarine or as a recruiter, Amaya said he has learned many things about the Navy, which has helped him advance in his career.
“One of the things of being in a submarine is you never stop pursuing that knowledge,” he said. “Here (at NRD San Antonio) I’m learning about the jobs the Navy has and what it takes to join those different jobs. It gives me a better understanding and knowledge of the Navy around me.”
Chief Petty Officer Will Morgan, NRD San Antonio Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations leading chief petty officer, nominated Amaya for Sailor of the Year.
Morgan, who is Amaya’s supervisor, said he nominated Amaya for the award based on his all-around performance in the positions he has served at NRD San Antonio.
“Whatever role he is asked to fulfill, he excels in,” Morgan said. “He’s an epitome of a versatile Sailor. He transfers from one role to another and excels at it and does it flawlessly.”
Morgan said Amaya has helped increased participation in the Navy ROTC program, starting with zero student scholarship applications in September 2017 to exceeding over 100 percent by January of this year.
Going forward, Amaya said his career goals are to complete 20 years of service in the Navy, earn a degree in engineering and become an engineering department master chief on a nuclear submarine.