Santa Clarita native earns Military Excellence Award at Recruit Training Command

Seaman Recruit Jessica Stitzinger. Courtesy photo.
Seaman Recruit Jessica Stitzinger. Courtesy photo.

By Alan Nunn 
Navy Recruit Training Command Public Affairs 

GREAT LAKES, Ill. — Seaman Recruit Jessica Stitzinger, a native of Santa Clarita, graduated as the top sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 380, earning the Military Excellence Award, Dec. 7. 

The Navy Club of the MEA is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed her at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors. Stitzinger was awarded a flag letter of commendation.  

“This award motivates me to work hard and succeed in the day-in and day-out grind,” said Stitzinger. “To wake up every day and put forth my best effort — to be a little bit better than I was yesterday.” 

Stitzinger, 20, attended College of the Canyons and graduated from Hart High School, where she was an honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society. She was a member of a league championship swim team and a CrossFit Open quarterfinalist. Stitzinger is a certified emergency medical technician, lifeguard and CrossFit Level 2 coach. 

Stitzinger joined the Navy for educational and professional opportunities. 

“I joined the Navy to become one of the top first responders in the world,” said Stitzinger. “I want to get the most advanced training, and serve my country in search and rescue and emergency response care through my job in the Navy.” 

Stitzinger said the toughest part of boot camp was adapting to a new way of life. 

“I learned how to march, speak, dress and even fold my clothes in a specific way,” said Stitzinger. “Learning to do this correctly was a challenge at first, but eventually got easier as I took the time to practice.” 

Stitzinger credited her Recruit Division commanders, Chief Interior Communications Electrician Jason Lacy, Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) David Alvardo, and Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Patrick Fitzgerald for their leadership and guidance. 

“Chief Lacy constantly gave our division inspiration to stay disciplined and give each day all we have to get through the obstacles we faced in boot camp,” said Stitzinger. “Another person who motivated me through boot camp was my dad, Jim Stitzinger. He encouraged me to keep working hard and succeed through the phone calls and letters we got.” 

Boot camp is approximately 10 weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes five warfighting competencies of firefighting, damage control, seamanship, watchstanding, and small arms handling and marksmanship along with physical fitness and lessons in Navy heritage and core values, warrior toughness, life skills, teamwork and discipline. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy’s only boot camp. 

Stitzinger is assigned the rate of Hospital Corpsman-Advanced Technical Field. 

After graduation, Stitzinger will attend Hospital Corpsman “A” School in Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. Hospital Corpsman-Advanced Technical Field performs duties with the Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance and the Navy Dive and Aviation communities. 

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