Capt. John Keifaber, commanding officer of amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7), center, Capt. Gary Harrington, executive officer, center left, and Command Master Chief Latoyna Grace, center right, pose for a photo with the ship’s Junior Enlisted Association on Sep. 20. Tripoli is an America-class amphibious assault ship homeported in San Diego. U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Austyn Riley.

SAN DIEGO – The Junior Enlisted Association aboard amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA7) was awarded the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award for the calendar year 2023.

Bob Feller was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956.

In 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Feller enlisted in the Navy and served aboard USS Alabama (BB 60) as a Gun Captain. He was released from active-duty service as a Chief Petty Officer, Aug. 22, 1945.

In 2013, the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation established the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award in his honor.

Young Sailors recognized

One of the categories for this award recognizes a group of Sailors, ages 18-25, who work together as a team to promote peer-to-peer mentorship and reduce destructive decision making and behaviors in Sailors.

This team can work together in either a professional or personal capacity

“I was really quiet when I first checked into the Tripoli, but joining the JEA really helped me to meet new people and experience new things,” said Airman Dejonn Hunter, a member of the JEA. “It feels good to be a part of a team like this, and I’m excited to keep growing with them.”

Tripoli JEA has 145 members

Tripoli’s JEA has 145 members, and have successfully executed more than 50 association events.

They hosted multiple morale boosting and fundraising events, all of which helped to promote camaraderie throughout the command.

The association also assisted in coordinating and executing community service opportunities while on their maiden deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and their efforts continued even after Tripoli returned to the ship’s homeport of San Diego.

‘Made for us by us’

“We’ve hosted karaoke and poetry nights, and we’re organizing a beach clean up at the moment,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Ayria Irby, the president of the JEA. “This organization is made for us by us, no one else is going to look out for our needs like us.”

The JEA also organized many training sessions in personnel qualification standards (PQS) for more than 500 Sailors and assisted Sailors with earning their warfare designator qualifications.

This work increased the number of qualified Sailors, meaning more Sailors could stand watches, participate in drills, and it boosted the ship’s operational readiness.

“This award serves to show the JEA that their hard work within the command does not go unnoticed,” said Chief Yeoman Alicia Bufford, one of the JEA’s mentors “This is a big moment for them and I am so proud!”

More Sailors joining

The JEA is already seeing an increase in Sailors interested in joining, said Bufford.
“I’m incredibly proud of the JEA and their continued dedication to the Navy’s mission, their shipmates, and our families back at home,” said Capt. John Kiefaber, commanding officer aboard Tripoli. “I cannot wait to see how they grow as an organization from here.”

The Bob Feller Award will be presented to a select few Sailors from Tripoli’s JEA in Washington on Nov. 15.

The ship’s representatives will receive an engraved plaque and will have the opportunity to tour parts of the nation’s capital.

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Olivia Rucker

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