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Bayfield native named Navy’s top sailor in 2023

Petty Officer First Class Austin Smith wins award for work on submarine naval base
Petty Officer First Class Austin Smith, a 2013 Bayfield High School graduate, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal as the 2023 Sailor of the Year. (Courtesy of Isaiah M. Williams)

A naval petty officer with Bayfield ties recently received the honor as last year’s top sailor for his work at the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific naval base.

Petty Officer First Class Austin Smith, a 2013 Bayfield High School graduate, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal as the 2023 Sailor of the Year, according to a Wednesday news release.

“This recognition reaffirms that my hard work, sacrifices and perseverance were not in vain,” Smith said in the release. “It's a validation of the commitment I've made to excellence and the values of the strategic enterprise. This honor not only recognizes my individual efforts but also highlights the incredible support and guidance I've received from my fellow sailors and leaders.”

Smith also said in the release that the award reminds him about the responsibility that comes with it.

“I am deeply grateful for this acknowledgment and remain committed to upholding the principles that have brought me to this moment,” Smith said.

The Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific is a naval shipyard and intermediate maintenance facility, storing submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The facility’s headquarters is in Silverdale, Washington.

The Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of vessels, capable of conducting worldwide operations to help improve national security in the United States, the release said.

The Navy works with three kinds of submarines: fast-attack, ballistic-missile and guided-missile, according to the release.

Fast-attack submarines help track down enemy ships and ships that are ashore. Ballistic-missile submarines, often called “boomers,” are designed specifically for stealthy, extended patrols. Guided-missile submarines are used in special operation missions.

mhollinshead@durangoherald.com



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