The Navy petty officer ensuring the Carney stays focused on the fight

by Tommy Grant

It takes all the sailors onboard to operate a U.S. Navy warship.

And in the Middle East wartime environment that the destroyer Carney has found itself operating since October, every sailor fulfilling their mission becomes doubly important.

In such environments, some sailors make an impact both in their day job and behind the scenes, serving as a sort of quiet glue keeping a ship’s crew together through their most trying of times.

To hear his command tell it, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Alexander Boston exemplifies this ethos, and for that reason he is the Military Times’ 2024 Sailor of the Year.

By his own admission, the married father’s job isn’t the flashiest. He attends to the human resources needs of hundreds of Carney sailors, making sure their pay and benefits are processed and squared away.

“They have to come and see me at least twice in their career, when they come in, and when they’re going, and then any other major life changes,” Boston said in an interview recorded by Navy personnel aboard the deployed Carney this month.

Such a job is always important in a unit, but the Carney isn’t just any old ship at sea these days.

Since Oct. 19, it has shot down an at-times relentless barrage of missiles and air attack drones fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Boston works to help ensure they stay focused on that fight.

“I try to make sure that personnel and their family can be relaxed, they don’t have to worry about their pay,” Boston said. “I may not be shooting Tomahawks and different things like that and armoring up, but … as long as I know that their families and/or them don’t have to worry about that and they can concentrate on their job, that makes me happy.”

Boston admits it was not what he was expecting for this latest cruise with the Carney.

“This has been a very interesting deployment,” he said. “It has brought a lot of excitement to the crew, but also a lot of nervousness, unknown factors that’s happening. But the crew as a whole has been resilient, has done a great job of overcoming a lot of obstacles, and we have really enjoyed this time.”

That work has placed the ship and its crew in an always ready and always vigilant posture.

Boston quietly backs up his fellow sailors, ensuring that those back-home concerns don’t distract from their fight against the Houthis.

“Throughout this rigorous deployment, [Boston] has helped sailors stay in the right mindset and keep things in perspective to stay focused on the fight,” Cmdr. Jeremy Robertson, Carney’s commanding officer, said of Boston. “He helps them take care of any issues back home that may cause undue stress, to keep them locked in and positive. Boston’s passion for keeping the ship mission-ready has been critical throughout our training and evolutions. He is one of our greatest assets to the team.”

When not attending to his shipmates’ pay and other needs, he is a steady, light presence aboard the ship, helping the hard-working crew, who describe him as a “ray of sunshine” in their ranks.

A Barstow, Florida, native, the 39-year-old played football for Florida State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in science.

After a stint with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, Boston enlisted in 2010.

“Since then, he has had a positive influence at each command, and he has connected with the crew in an exceptional way since joining the Carney,” the ship’s command wrote in its nomination of Boston.

In addition to making sure the crew’s pay and benefits are squared away, not to mention travel claims, retirements, hazard pay and a bevy of other admin needs, Boston has led several ship fundraisers and organized morale events for the hard-working men and women of the Carney.

Back home in Florida, he organized the inaugural “Carney Saint Augustine Bike Ride” to promote motorcycle safety.

In the wartime environment of the Carney’s current deployment, Boston is a levelling and stable presence for sailors, according to Chief Personnel Specialist Wesley Taylor, Boston’s direct supervisor.

“He is never overwhelmed, and he keeps a positive attitude through even the most difficult situations,” Taylor said in a statement. “He performs at the rank above him and has filled in as the chief when there wasn’t one. I don’t know where I would be without him.”

Along the way, he has given more than 350 hours to his local communities, wherever the Navy sends him to serve.

His command recalls how Boston helped turn around a junior sailor who was busted on multiple disciplinary infractions and was known to have a bad attitude with other crew members.

Boston asked that the sailor be moved to his division for guidance, and he took the time to get to know the sailor and his issues.

That junior sailor soon turned things around and became a respectful and dedicated member of the team, and his ship mates noted the change.

That troubled sailor went on to be awarded as the Carney’s sailor of the month, and still contacts Boston for mentorship and advice, even after leaving the warship for his next assignment.

“You could not ask for a better first class, he is part of every aspect of the ship,” Carney Command Master Chief Charles Myers said. “What he has done with junior Sailors to mentor them, and for him to specifically request to mentor those who have struggled, demonstrates his initiative and dedication to the team.”

Boston doesn’t hide the affection he feels for Carney’s crew as they continue their historic deployment.

“They are some resilient young men and women,” he said. “I look at them daily, and that’s why I like joking, having a good time with all of them and trying to make their day better.”

“They come to work, they put on their boots, put on their uniform and take pride in what they’re doing, and I want to be a part of that and continue to assist in any manner.”

See all of Military Times’ 2024 Service Members of the Year honorees.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at [email protected].

Read the full article here

Related Posts