Every year, the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce’s Military Appreciation Committee hosts the Military Appreciation Dinner to honor local heroes from all branches of the military. Now in its 23rd year, the event connects business, city and regional leaders with local servicemen and women.
This year's awards presentation was held virtually on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11. With the theme “Honoring our heroes from home,” this year’s presentation features keynote speaker Captain Jeff Chism, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Ventura County.
The honorees are selected by their commanding officers not only for their military service, but also for their service in the local community. The 2020 honorees are:
United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Alvin Loya
Born and raised in Port Hueneme, California. His first duty station was Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, Bangor, Washington where he worked as Sergeant of the Guard in charge of nuclear physical security and strategic missile movements. During his time in Washington he achieved the rank of Corporal.
He deployed to Iraq as a Team Leader on a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel team. He led his team on numerous Quick Reaction Force Missions around his assigned area of operations. He once again deployed to Iraq where he led numerous Mounted/Dismounted Patrols and Key Leader Engagement. He evaluated multiple Marine Battalions participating in their certification exercise to deploy overseas. In October 2019, he reported to Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marines at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme.
As a member of the Inspector-Instructor staff, he serves as the Training and Communications Chief. As the Communications Chief, he supports the Marines of Weapons Company by ensuring all communication equipment is in proper condition and leads the Communication Marines while they attend training. He regularly volunteers to support community relations events such as Funerals, Color Guards, and Honor Guards.
United States Navy
Logistics Specialist First Class Stephen Mamman
Petty Officer First Class Mamman was raised in Kaduna, Nigeria. As the Quality Assurance Petty Officer, he led 27 sailors and 6 civilians in the completion of 80 random inspections, and 13 quality assurance audits for 13 work-centers, in direct support for 1015 safe flight hours and achieved the 2019 ashore blue “E” award for supply management excellence.
He volunteered 44 hours of community service with Naval Base Ventura County food share distribution, while developing esprit de corps with the military and his community.
As the Component Control Section Leading Petty Officer his leadership propelled 11 military/civilian personnel to induct 897 components values a $122M into the repair cycle with zero discrepancies. He managed the processing of 580 beyond capable of maintenance components for shipment across eight repair facilities. This directly supported two squadron deployments and four detachments.
He completed his Bachelor’s Degree with specialization in Management and is currently enrolled in National University Graduate School for Masters in Healthcare Administration.
United States Navy
Builder First Class Linda M. Meale
As Detail Chinhae’s Leading Petty Officer, she meticulously managed and maintained administrative and operational files to include 137 information and readiness items for 20 personnel and 21 recurring reports.
Petty Officer Meale was hand-selected as Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four’s Material Liaison Office’s Leading Petty Officer and the right guide for First Platoon, Headquarters Company for the 2019-2020 homeport.
During deployment, she assisted Republic of Korea students with their learning of the English language as well as sharing understanding of each other's culture while strengthening the ROK-U.S. alliance. She also led efforts to clean up the local Chinhae community by picking up trash and general maintenance of the Chinhae “Love Bridge”, and also participated in a combined ROK and U.S. Women's Leadership Symposium discussing mutual challenges and shared work, life and personal experiences to help develop the leadership capabilities of service women for both countries.
During homeport, she assisted with gym enhancements at Pacifica High School, served 200 breakfast plates at a local VFW and also coordinated a group of six of her peers in a base cleanup. She also volunteered eight hours of her time while participating in Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme’s Food Drive.
Petty Officer Meale was selected as Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR’s FY 2019 Senior Sailor of the Year. Her phenomenal work ethic has made a great and lasting contribution to this command’s operational readiness and overall effectiveness. Petty Officer Meale’s exceptional professionalism, unrelenting perseverance, and loyal devotion to duty reflected credit upon her and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States naval service.
United States Navy
Builder First Class Thomas C. Ross
Petty Officer Ross is assigned as the Operations Department Leading Petty Officer and Construction Readiness Operations for Naval Construction Group ONE. He is responsible for leading and oversight of 27 personnel within the operations department ensuring readiness and the capabilities are met to perform their mission.
As the Operations Department Construction Readiness Operations Leading PettyOfficer he has an enormous effect on the mission capabilities for the entire PacificFleet Naval Construction Force. His leadership enabled the programming and execution of 18 construction projects valued at $5.2M.
As the Construction Project Management Subject Matter Expert he instructed eight hours of hands on training of two Naval Construction Force units, spearheaded an online method to teach reserves during COVID-19 and coordinated the implementation of Construction Project Management on the Naval Construction Force’s tactical network.
Petty Officer Ross was selected as the Naval Construction Group FY 2019 Sailor of the Year. His performance, steadfast perseverance, and outstanding devotion to duty reflected credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval service.
United States Navy
Culinary Specialist First Class Karl Tristan A. Cruz
Petty Officer Cruz is the Leading Petty Officer of Port Hueneme’s “Gold Coast Beestro”. He distinguished himself through his exemplary leadership of a team of 32 military and 20 civilians, in the daily production of over 1200 nutritious meals. He also took on the arduous task of tracking and supervising the preparation of an additional 25,000 to-go meals to ensure the continued operational readiness Pacific Fleet Forces and CNRSW since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
He participated in community relations representing the Navy on a Global Diplomatic stage in the removal of debris along nature trails in the Bahamas. He is an advocate of goodwill for the Navy and the Model Sailor for all sailors to emulate on Naval Base Ventura County. He assisted in a drug demand reduction and comprehensive life skills program. He inspired 9 to 12-year-old youths by instilling character, leadership, and confidence in efforts to promote a healthy drug free lifestyle.
He devoted time to the Armed Forces San Diego YMCA, and also spent several off-duty hours participating in the Laguna Niguel car wash and holiday parade as well as the local food share drives on Naval Base Ventura County displaying Navy Core values to the local community.
Department of the Air Force
Channel Islands Air National Guard
Staff Sergeant Karina Rosas
Staff Sergeant Rosas enlisted into the United States Air Force in January 2012. In 2018 she transferred to the California Air National Guard, 146th Airlift Wing where she assumed a new duty position as an All Source Intelligence Analyst. She graduated from her formal school as a Distinguished Graduate.
Staff Sergeant Rosas participated in humanitarian missions that included working at local food banks in the midst of COVID-19 and supporting civil unrest mitigation efforts. Staff Sergeant Rosas set a new and higher standard for critical Tactics-Intelligence integration in mission planning.
As recent treasurer and board member of the 146th Airlift Wing’s Rising Six Council, she fulfilled several leadership development opportunities. Her inputs were also essential to the newly established Wing Promotion Board Program, which directly supported enlisted members with ranks of E-4 through E-6.
Staff Sergeant Rosas spends time mentoring peers and subordinates alike. She is pursuing her goal of becoming an Air Force Officer in the California Air National Guard. She will complete her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership within the calendar year, and plans to pursue her Master’s degree shortly after.
United States Air Force
Technical Sergeant Raymond K. Smalls
Technical Sergeant Smalls enlisted in the United States Air Force in December of 2003. In 2005, he was assigned to the 315th Civil Engineering Group at Charleston South Carolina. During the years of 2010-2017 Sgt. Smalls was deployed in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, OPERATION NEW DAWN, and OPERATION JOINT GUARDIAN.
Currently stationed at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California, Sergeant Smalls is assigned as the Flight Chief for the Military Training Flight, where he leads a team of four Military Training Leaders. Most importantly, he is charged with the health and wellness, as well as with upholding good order and discipline, for 480 Air Force Vehicle Management non-prior service students annually.
Due to his outstanding leadership and expertise, Sergeant Smalls was the lead for four Commander-directed dormitory inspections in one year. He trained 50 noncommissioned officers on safety and security procedures, resulting in the confiscation of 81 unauthorized items.
Being an Air Force detachment on a Navy installation means Sergeant Smalls works hand-in-hand with the Naval Military Training staff. Most importantly they have focused on protecting the student’s health and
safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
United States Coast Guard
Boatswains Mate Second Class Alvaro Torres Aguirre
Petty Officer Torres Aguirre enlisted in the Coast Guard on 16 May 2016. As the Navigation Petty Officer he planned, and prepared all of the navigational and logistical details for the long transit to the San Francisco Bay for Station Channel Islands Dry Dock Period. He expertly plotted all of the routes from Channel Islands Harbor to the Boat Yard in San Francisco Bay, and his high quality of work has led to other units incorporating his plan into their transits which greatly reduced their workload. These efforts have led to multiple safe, and effective, transits to the San Francisco Bay.
Petty Officer Torres Aguirre is a strong leader whose positivity inspires those around him and improves the morale of his shipmates. Petty Officer Torres Aguirre is one of the lead trainers. His training contributions have directly led to over 50 qualifications to include Communication Watch Stander, Basic and Pursuit Boat Crew Member, Boarding Team Member, and Officer of the Day. Petty Officer Torres Aguirre recently received his U.S. Citizenship demonstrating his commitment to the United States of America and Coast Guard.