On October 12, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2012 Military Citizen of the Year Luncheon, in conjunction with Fleet Week. Nearly 250 attended the luncheon at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, to observe the annual Samuel T. Northern Military Citizen of the Year Award (MCOY) presented to the enlisted military individual whose personal and public contributions have had the most positive effect on the Hampton Roads community. The luncheon also gives the Hampton Roads business community the opportunity to show its appreciation for the local military presence here.
This year, 29 men and women were nominated for the prestigious award. The 2012 Military Citizen of the Year is Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Eric Brown, Public Affairs Officer, USS ARLINGTON (LPD 24).
Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Eric Brown, a native of Albuquerque, N.M., has dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to the Hampton Roads community. In 2011, he volunteered more than 250 hours with the United Service Organizations (USO) of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia’s Center at Norfolk International Airport. Brown greeted visitors, provided information referral, received and organized donations and supplies, prepared food and cleaned. At the request of the USO, he wrote articles and shot photos which were published in “The Flagship” newspaper, promoting the USO’s services and events. For the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Brown volunteered more than 74 hours serving as a docent and tour guide. In addition, he volunteered at special events and served as the copy editor for the museum’s periodical “The Daybook.” Also in 2011, Brown volunteered for Nauticus as a tour guide aboard the Battleship USS Wisconsin. Lastly, Brown volunteered for Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads, hauling gravel, painting, pouring concrete, conducting yard work, installing siding and insulation, as well as transporting and organizing warehouse supplies.
Those in attendance learned that Brown is leaving on a deployment tomorrow, reminding the crowd of the sacrifices made by those serving in our military. While accepting the award, Brown stressed the importance of community service, saying, “Community service is the primary way we interact with our environment and the way we embrace our neighbors.”
During the event, Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim presented a City of Norfolk proclamation to Rear Admiral Tim Alexander kicking off Fleet Week Hampton Roads. A bell ringing ceremony, led by Command Master Chief Dominick Torchia, took place commemorating the 237th birthday of the Navy.
Rear Admiral Byron “Jake” Tobin, USN (Ret.) was the keynote speaker. Regarding the men and women in our armed forces, he said, “their sacrifice is worthy of our highest praise.” About the nominees, he said, “Yesterday, they were in Afghanistan or somewhere else – today they are volunteering in our homeless shelters, schools and soccer fields.”
The Chamber thanks the following sponsors: City of Norfolk, Dale Carnegie Training/Wade Powell & Assoc., and USA Discounters (Gold); Cox Communications (Media); JPM Financial Services and Strayer University (Silver); GEICO (Military Gold Program Partner & Challenge Coin Sponsor); Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (Special Military Program Sponsor); Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Pioneer Services (Military Silver Program Sponsors); First Command Financial Planning, Regent University, Saint Leo University and Lockheed Martin (Military Bronze Program Sponsor).