Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Weston A. Mohr
PACIFIC OCEAN – For being someone that doesn’t like being the center of attention, all eyes were on one USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailor as he received the 2015 Service Member of the Year Award at a gala held by the USO in Bellevue, Wash., last week.
Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class (RP1) Zachary Muncrief, native of Las Cruces, N.M., and the leading petty officer of Stennis’ Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD), received the award for his excellent work performance and volunteer efforts.
“I’ve been in the Navy for 13 years,” said Muncrief. “I do what I need to do and I do it to the best of my ability. I don’t feel like I’m better than anybody else; I just keep going every day, that’s all I really can do.”
Chief Religious Programs Specialist Paul Benjamin Drachenberg, the leading chief petty officer for CRMD, submitted Muncrief for the award.
“RP1 is an outstanding partner as far as leading CRMD Sailors,” said Drachenberg. “He’s involved heavily and finds every way he can contribute to be an active member of the ship.”
Muncrief helps set up most of the community relations projects (Comrels) for the ship, which gets people involved in their community. He is also involved with CPO 365 which helps first class petty officers become chiefs. Muncrief’s hard work obviously paid off, as he was the only one selected to win the award Navy wide.
“It’s encouraging that his hard work got him something in return,” said Drachenberg. “It’s humbling that one of your people gets that honor. I like to reward people who work hard. He’s a go-getter, that’s why I chose to nominate him.”
Muncrief stood on the stage with one service member from each branch of the military who were also receiving the award. The audience was filled with retired military and locals from around the area. Among them, according to Muncrief, were a few former prisoners of war, some retired admirals and even a former chief of naval operations.
“Everyone at the banquet was appreciative that the one person who won it from the Navy was someone stationed on a ship,” said Muncrief.
Drachenberg said Muncrief has a good head on his shoulders and feels peace of mind knowing Muncrief is going to eventually replace him when he leaves.
“He has the energy and passion to take my place when I’m gone,” said Drachenberg. “He has the energy as far as knowing what needs to be done and then getting it done. He has the passion as far as wanting to see other people be successful. I put him in charge and he takes action; I don’t have to worry about the different steps that need to get done.”
Muncrief was appreciative of the award but that’s not the reason he does the things he does. He does them to help his fellow shipmates and do the best he can to make the ship a better place, and that’s exactly the type of person who deserves recognition like this.
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