News Release, NAVAIR
PATUXENT RIVER, Md–Parachute Rigger First Class (PR1) Brandon Hitz never imagined he’d be a Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) Sailor of the Year (SOY) nominee when he enlisted in the Navy in September 2005, as his plan was to serve only four years.
Encouraged by enlisted leaders and pushed to do things out of his comfort zone, he was motivated to re-enlist. Almost 14 years later, his performance earned him this tremendous nomination.
“My first chief, Aviation Support Equipment Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (ASCS) Hope Kulaszewski was always on my back, but looking back, I realize she saw potential in me that I didn’t see myself,” Hitz said.
“She made me speak at a Women’s History Month event and read a proclamation to an audience made up of all women of all military ranks. It was intimidating and something I never would have signed up for on my own,” he laughs. “Talk about being out of your comfort zone!”
And since then, Hitz has looked for opportunities to go above and beyond, a quality that was recognized by Aviation Machinist’s Mate Chief Petty Officer (ADC) Will Childree when Hitz reported to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7.
“Chief Childree encouraged me to sign up for collateral duties whenever they were presented and taught me to lead by example, as he does. As a result of having great mentors, I look for ways to help my leadership, and at the same time, I try to lead the younger Sailors in much the same way. I don’t ask of them what I’m not willing to do myself.”
His service extends beyond the Navy, as Hitz earned the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal in his last command and set a goal to earn another while at Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC).
Hitz reported to COMFRC late last year after his tour with HSC-7 and currently serves as the quality assurance lead petty officer in the safety and regulatory compliance directorate (N45).
While attached to HSC-7, he deployed onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in June 2016. Not long after returning from deployment, he was sent to Texas, where his squadron conducted Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations in support of Hurricane Harvey. As DSCA detachment flight line coordinator, Hitz assisted the command in the safe and effective search and rescue of 211 personnel and movement of 5,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies during hurricane relief efforts.
“The hurricane relief effort was one of the highlights of my career. The teamwork and the community support was outstanding,” Hitz said. “I was called off leave in order to detach with my squadron and wasn’t too happy about that. But it was so gratifying to know how much we were helping those affected by Harvey.”
HSC-7 nominated Hitz for the CNAL SOY after he received the squadron’s Senior Sailor of the Quarter for fourth quarter, 2018, and Senior Sailor of the Year, fiscal 2018. He was also Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic (HSCWLANT) Sea Sailor of the Year fiscal 2018.
“I am honored to be a nominee for this award. My advice to younger sailors is to take initiative; be positive; and look at the big picture. What we do every day contributes to the defense of our nation and its citizens.”
The CNAL SOY will be announced Jan. 31.