Seaman Recruit Grant Novinger, a 2018 home-schooled graduate and native of Milan, graduated as top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 934, Great Lakes, Illinois, earning the Military Excellence Award June 28.
Novinger said he is honored to be selected for the recognition. “This award means that I put my best foot forward when it comes to performing in boot camp,” he reported. “It means that I have exemplified, to the best of my ability, the core values of honor, course and commitment.”
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of a 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 Novinger at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors. He was awarded a flag letter of commendation for his achievements.
Novinger was a U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps member for seven years, holding the rank of midshipman with the Flying Tigers Squadron, based in Milan. He served in a number of roles, including color guard commander, cadet division commander and chief petty officer.
The teen said he joined the Navy to continue his family’s tradition of service. “My grandfather, Fred Novinger, and my father, Scott Novinger, served in the Navy,” Novinger said. “My brother, Koen Novinger, currently serves, and now I am. It just seemed like it’d be the right fit and that I would enjoy my experiences.”
Novinger credited his Recruit Division commanders, Senior Chief Sonar Technician Joseph Meadors, Chief Logistics Specialist Tecla Blackett, and Aviation Structural Mechanic (Equipment) 1st Class Ryan O’Neill for their leadership and guidance.
He said his parents, Scott and Michelle Novinger, who instilled a strong foundation and prepared him for his future, inspired him. “My father and mother always pushed me to be the best that I can be in all circumstances. They have shown me that whatever I put into what I do is what I’ll get out of it. They were strict, but very reasonable parents and for that I am grateful.”
The award recipient said the toughest part of boot camp was learning to be patient. “That was probably the biggest challenge for me. I was getting frustrated with other shipmates not always being on the go, etc. I overcame it by using a technique my RDCs taught me. It is called recalibrating, and it helped me to become more patient.”
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all U.S. Navy enlistees begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 35,0000 recruits are trained annually.
Now Novinger will attend Nuclear Machinist’s Mate “A” School in Charleston, South Carolina. He will then go to Nuclear Propulsion School and finally Prototype School. Machinist Mate duties in nuclear propulsion plants include operating reactor control, propulsion and power generation systems. Novinger will be able to choose between serving on an aircraft carrier and volunteering for submarine duty.
Alan Nunn is a Recruit Training Command Public Affairs employee.