MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The 6th annual Marine Corps Installations East breakfast hosted by Mainstreet, a collection of businesses supporting the military, was held at the Ball Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to recognize the noncommissioned officer, Marine and sailor of the year, Jan. 9.
The NCO of the Year was Sgt. Robert F. Lark, an expeditionary airfields systems technician with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Wing Support Group 27, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The Marine of the Year was Cpl. Matthew S. Hamel, a distribution management specialist with Company A, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. Hamel was selected for the award as a lance corporal and was promoted before the day of the breakfast.
The Sailor of the Year went to Petty Officer 2nd Class Francisco Aquedamartinez, a corpsman with Deployment Processing Command, MCIEAST.
Various business and agencies from the community awarded the service members with trophies and gifts, and thanked them for their accomplishment. North Carolina Senator Harry Brown also attended the ceremony to show his support.
"This is truly and honor to be here with these outstanding (service members) to recognize their professional achievement," said Adam Terry, regional representative with the Marine Corps Association. "I hope that they continue the great work that they've done."
Local businesses support has made funding for the ceremony possible each year, and their support shows the military community that they care.
"The relationship we have between the civilians and agencies on and off base is second to none," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East. "I do like to think that North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in our nation."
To concluding the ceremony, the service members were awarded with Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.
"It feels great to be recognized, but it doesn't stop here," said Lark. "I've got to keep pushing forward, and this is just another step in the process. It's definitely awesome to have the community come out here to show their appreciation. It makes all the hard work and effort that we put forth worth it."
All the service members selected displayed a great sense of pride and spoke the words of a natural leader.
When Hamel was asked what motivated him to improve and earn recognition, he replied, "I see the guy above me, and I always want his job."
"If you want to get somewhere in your life or as a Marine, always do the best," added Hamel. "Never settle for just the bare minimum. Always be better than your peers and the corporal ahead of you."
The awardees left the ceremony with their heads held high, bearing trophies and awards.
"I am truly honored to be sitting here to recognize three individuals that have worked diligently and exemplify the true core values that are important in today's youth," said Gorry. "Discipline, hard work, commitment, loyalty and trustworthiness, are all positive attitudes that you love to see in young people, and they will go forward as an example."