NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– The Common Aviation Support Equipment program office’s (PMA-260) Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon was selected for the 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award by the Military Officers Association of America. NAVAIR’s Vice Adm. Carl Chebi presented the award to Colon in a ceremony held on 18 Nov.

Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon, a business and financial manager supporting the Common Aviation Support Equipment program office (PMA-260) receives the 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award from the Southern Maryland Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in a ceremony held on 18 Nov. Pictured are, from left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Wanda Colon, retired Navy Cdr. Greg Dalke of MOAA, retired Army Col. Neil Johnson of MOAA, and Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, NAVAIR commander.

The award was established in 1981 by the Southern Maryland Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) to recognize exemplary junior officers and is named in honor of Admiral Merlin O’Neill, Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1950 to 1954 and a prominent southern Maryland resident in his later years. O’Neill was a decorated veteran of World War II and known for taking a personal interest in the development of junior officers.

“The junior officers at Patuxent River are a force multiplier when it comes to supporting our mission here, and the Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year Award is one way the Navy highlights the achievement of these stellar leaders,” said Mr. Gary M. Kurtz, program executive officer, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services (PEO(CS)).

To be eligible, officers must be grade O-4 or below and maybe from any service branch, to include U.S. Coast Guard, assigned to activities onboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Particular emphasis must be placed on sustained superior performance and leadership. The officer’s emphasis on volunteer activities and involvement in community service are important factors in selection.

As a leader, Colon actively manages more than $100 million in programmatic funds as a budget and financial manager at PMA-260, achieving a 99.9 percent obligation rate, surpassing Financial Management and Budget (FMB) benchmarks.

As the Navy Supply Corps Foundation Patuxent River Chapter secretary, she coordinated the first NAVAIR Panel of Captains, providing mentorship to 37 Supply Corps officers of NAS Patuxent River, focusing on personal and professional development.

Colon aligns with the Chief of Naval Operation’s longstanding priority of taking care of people. Colon trained four NAVAIR interns this year in proper financial management processes, decreasing rework and increasing effectiveness through the DoD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution methods. As the PEO(CS) Common Spend Plan Tool representative, she was responsible for the creation of PMA-260’s CSPT business rules and spend plan guidance, facilitating organizational change throughout the command that directly supports NAVAIR production and financial objectives.

As the Naval Aviation Enterprise War Council operations officer, she was responsible for compiling all NAVAIR Direct War Overseas Contingency Operations requirements, ensuring these were included in the budget build and properly funded. Using lessons learned from the past, she identified and funded $803 million in direct war requirements for the fiscal year 2022, providing critical support for down-range warfighters.

“An exceptional representative of PMA-260, Colon is extremely intelligent, capable, and manages all tasking with wisdom beyond her rank; all key attributes of a superior Naval Officer. Her personal involvement, astute insight, and tremendous work ethic continue to make a positive impact in my command,” said Capt. Robert Burgess, PMA-260 program manager.

Colon is a parish member of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, where she dedicates volunteer hours assisting as a Spanish-speaking interpreter for the Spanish-speaking members of the congregation, serves as a server during Lent, and decorates her church in preparation for Christmas and Easter. She has participated in the “Clean the Bay” day, clearing NAS Patuxent River beaches of trash and debris that washed ashore, volunteers with the local chapter of Rebuilding Together, participating in “Christmas in April”, to rehabilitate the homes of low-income families, focusing on elderly or disabled citizens of southern Maryland.

The Navy’s Common Aviation Support Equipment program office (PMA-260) manages the procurement, development, and fielding of common aviation support equipment required for the operation and maintenance of aircraft, aircraft weapons, related aircraft weapons subsystems, and miscellaneous ground support equipment. Additionally, PMA-260 manages the Metrology and Calibration program, the Foreign Object Damage mitigation effort, and the mobile facilities used to support Navy Expeditionary and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron Intermediate-level maintenance. 


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