By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda S. Kitchner, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Andres Santamaria, assigned to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), was recognized with the Surface Force Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) of the Year Award, Feb. 2.
IDCs are hospital corpsmen who have undergone specialized training that allows them to operate autonomously and provide advanced care to Sailors.
This award recognizes IDCs who go above and beyond the already strenuous requirements of their duty. Santamaria received this award, in part, due to his outstanding service aboard Curtis Wilbur. The competition examined Santamaria’s technical competence, leadership, well-rounded performance as a Sailor, and his overall contribution to the Navy’s mission.
“Petty Officer Santamaria is an inspirational deckplate leader. His thirst for knowledge and qualifications beyond his rate are exemplary,” said Cmdr. Amy Graham, executive officer of the Curtis Wilbur. “He is always willing and able to mentor our junior sailors and consistently provides sound medical expertise to the chain of command.”
Santamaria serves as the senior medical department representative aboard the Curtis Wilbur and is directly responsible for more than 300 Sailors’ overall health and welfare. He has made a name for himself with his enthusiasm, genuine concern for his Sailors, and finesse for rapid diagnosis and care. In addition, Santamaria’s excellent performance extends beyond medical expertise.
“Curtis Wilbur is very lucky to have Petty Officer Santamaria,” said Cmdr. Hans De For, commanding officer of the Curtis Wilbur. “He a great counselor and a mentor. He’s earned the complete trust of the crew. I couldn’t be happier with his service.”
In June 2013, Curtis Wilbur went through a Congressional Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspection. Santamaria served as assistant safety officer and revitalized the ship’s safety program, earning an overall 92% for Navy Occupational Health and Safety portions of the INSERV and the ship’s second consecutive Safety Excellence Award.
As departmental leading petty officer for navigation and administration department, Santamaria leads 13 juniors from three different divisions. Through his efforts, he assisted his Sailors in earning six enlisted surface warfare qualifications, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, one Destroyer Squadron 15 Blue Jacket of the Quarter, one Senior Sailor of the Quarter, one promotion to 3rd class petty officer and one selection to chief petty officer.
Santamaria also spearheaded several opportunities to encourage a healthier lifestyle for Curtis Wilbur Sailors. He arranged guest speakers and ship-wide campaigns for healthier living. His efforts were rewarded as he continued the ship’s streak of 13 consecutive Green “H” awards, the third longest running streak in the Navy.
“He is one of the hardest working first classes onboard,“ said Command Master Chief Jeremiah Montanez. “I would love to see him put on his anchors this year, and I know he will be a strong leader in the chief petty officer community.”
Despite the enthusiastic praise of his chain of command and the Sailors he has helped, Santamaria maintains that this award is due to the Sailors around him.
“Everything that I have been able to accomplish is because of the support that I receive from the Sailors in my department, my duty section, and the leaders above me,” said Santamaria. “My Sailors are the best in the Navy, hands down. Equally valuable is the khaki leadership above me. Even though this is my first ship, they saw past my inexperience and allowed me to move throughout the ship and lead where I can.”
Santamaria was born in Fairfield, Calif. on July 17, 1984. He graduated Vacaville High School in 2002 and enlisted in the Navy in 2004 out of Sacramento, Calif.
His previous duty assignments include First Battalion, Sixth Marines Headquarters and Service Company; Bravo Company, Second Platoon; Naval Branch Health Clinic Port Hueneme, Point Mugu; Bravo Company, First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion; and Naval Branch Health Clinic, Point Mugu.
In 2011, he attended Independent Duty Corpsman School at the Naval School of Health Sciences in San Diego. He graduated as Honor Graduate and was advanced to 1st class petty officer, before reporting to the Curtis Wilbur in 2012.
This trophy serves to honor his exemplary service and patient care, and to highlight his achievements to Sailors who will follow in his footsteps.