The Roy M. Wheat Galley at Naval Air Station Meridian was packed Friday morning, as the Navy League presented one of its most prestigious awards, the Military Citizen of the Year. Members of the Navy are nominated by their superiors for their outstanding community service on top of their excellent work ethic at the base. Meridian Navy League President, Arjen Lagendijk says that this year's award is extra special.
"This year we have renamed it as the AC2 Whitney L. Powell Memorial Military Citizen of the Year Award in memory of the sailor we lost here at NAS Meridian last week."
This year's nominees were Religious Program Specialist First Class Joseph Stroney, Hospital Corpsman Second Class Audrey Anselmo, and Sgt. Phil Ard, of Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One. All three were recognized for their hard work and received gifts from several local sponsors. RP1 Joseph Stroney was selected from the three as this year's Military Citizen of the Year, and he says he felt very honored.
"It's an honor, a little unexpected. Everything that was given to us and donated by all these sponsors, I'm not really sure that we deserve all that, but it is definitely appreciated. It's been a long time, a year, and there's a lot of people I want to thank, but it's been fun"
On top of helping with any religious needs on base, Stroney also volunteers with The Big Brother program at Northeast Elementary, LOVE's Kitchen, the Dyslexia Foundation, and many other organizations. He plans to keep up with his volunteer work no matter where his Naval career takes him.
"I have about another year left here in Meridian. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and set my RP's up for success and transition from here and go out to the fleet and keep doing good things."