Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan – A Sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) was awarded the annual “Copernicus Award” by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and the U.S. Naval Institute for his contributions to Naval Warfare in the fields of information systems and information warfare.
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class (SW) Anthony Wild, from Crystal Lake, Ill., is the lowest ranking of the 31 recipients of the award this year. Many of the recipients were officers, from the department head level and above, making Wild’s achievement truly a rare one.
“I was really surprised to win the award, mainly because I felt so junior to everyone else who won,” said Wild. “It’s an honor to be one of the youngest people and lowest ranking to win, and I consider myself very lucky.”
As McCampbell’s communications watch officer onboard McCampbell, Wild is responsible for the overall operation and sustainment of all exterior communications and networking. In addition, as his division’s work center supervisor he is responsible for the maintenance of all shipboard antennas and served as combat systems officer of the watch, a duty that requires technical expertise and is vital to the overall combat operations of the ship. It was for accomplishments like these that Wild was considered for the Copernicus Award.
Wild attributes his accomplishments to the fact that while serving on a destroyer, he has had the chance to involve himself in every facet of the ship’s technical area, something he does with genuine interest. Wild has been interested in computers since he can remember, and said he considers himself lucky to be able to pursue his passion as part of the Navy.
“I went to school for computers and computing has always been my passion,” said Wild. “Fortunately, I have a job where I get to express that and do what I love, all while serving my country. Because I’m on a smaller ship I can do a little bit of everything technical, which I think really helped me become eligible for this award.”
The Copernicus Award was established in 1997 as a result of a discussion among Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, then president and CEO of AFCEA International, Capt. James A. Barber, then publisher and CEO of the U.S. Naval Institute and the late Vice Adm. Art Cebrowski, who was the Navy’s Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance.
The name for the award came from the Copernicus Architecture, used as the blueprint for the future Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence headquarters of the Navy. Recipients are selected based on their sustained superior performance in the information technician field. The selections are made each year by Navy judges who review applications from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, including both active duty and civilians. AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute present the awards at their annual Western Conference which will be held in Virginia this May.
Wild’s chain of command is very proud of his distinguished accomplishment.
“I think it’s outstanding for Wild, such a junior Sailor, to win the Copernicus Award,” said Chief Electronics Technician Joseph Atienza, one of Wild’s mentors on board. “For the incredible amount of technical expertise required to be nominated, it is almost unheard of for a second class petty officer to be selected. This award is a perfect testament to how hard Wild works, and how much passion he has for the technical field.”
The U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA state on the AFCEA website that they are honored to recognize individuals who continue to demonstrate in operations that Copernicus remains relevant today.
“My advice to junior Sailors is to use their recourses and do what their passionate about,” said Wild. “They should find what interests them and apply that interest and passion to their job, it really pays off. This award is an example of that.”