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    Local Base Commander Selected as 2022 BEYA Award Recipient

    Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Installation Commander Capt. Michael L. Witherspoon

    Photo By Michelle Stewart | Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Installation Commander Capt. Michael...... read more read more

    The Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story installation commander was recently named the Stars and Stripes newspaper’s Navy 2022 Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA).

    The award presentation will take place during the 37th annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Global Competitiveness Conference, held Feb. 18th in Washington, D.C.

    The Stars and Stripes award is one of the most prestigious and competitive honors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

    “I am honored and forever grateful to have been selected as this year’s Navy recipient of the Stars and Stripes Award,” said Capt. Michael L. Witherspoon, who has more than 35 years of service.

    According to Witherspoon, engineering has always been a part of his psyche.

    “When I was a child in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, one Christmas Santa brought me a rolling ball clock. By day’s end, I had assembled it, and it clicked away with acute precision, every second of the day. After a week it disappeared, never to be seen again,” he stated jokingly. “I never knew what happened to it, but it had unleashed my appetite for how things work.”

    Witherspoon enlisted in the Navy in October 1986 as a machinist’s mate fireman recruit. As a junior Sailor, he could frequently be found in the engineering plant reading manuals and mentally dissembling and reassembling equipment, Witherspoon said. This passion got him recognized as the go-to Sailor or the “engineering top watch” on his inaugural ship, the USS McKee (AS 41).

    In 1995, he was commissioned through Officers Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida as part of the Navy’s first Seaman-to-Admiral Program after the modification of the program. The program was re-established by former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Boorda for young, enlisted Sailors to earn their commission and become naval officers.

    “I was one of the 50 first selectees for that program and am one of the remaining still on active duty,” he said.

    A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and proud graduate of Central High School of Tuscaloosa, Witherspoon earned his bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Engineering from Norfolk State University and a master’s in National Security and Strategy from the prestigious U.S. Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island. His educational pursuits continue with him having recently graduated from the City of Virginia Beach’s CIVIC Leadership Institute.

    Witherspoon assignments include service aboard the USS McKee (AS 41), the USS Kidd (DDG 993), the USS Merrimack (AOE 107), the USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), the USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), the USS Gravely (DDG 107) and assignments with Coastal River Squadrons TWO (CRS 2) and FOUR (CRS 4). His contingency operations include Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Nobel Anvil, Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

    Upon hearing of this selection his first thought was how to best give back, he said.

    “Black and brown communities remain underrepresented in STEM jobs relative to their shares in the U.S. workforce. I intend to pay it forward, for students here in the Hampton Roads area and back home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama,” he said. “I can best do that by sharing how STEM has benefited me and the opportunities I was afforded.”

    In addition to being a walking witness, he stresses that one must possess great communication, problem-solving and organizational skills that directly relate to process improvement for organizations and people.
    Witherspoon’s impact is best summed in his nomination package.

    “Capt. Witherspoon’s personal commitment and dedication to the Navy have been a constant source of encouragement to those around him and have improved the performance level of the installation command and the Navy. He is most deserving of the recognition and truly exemplifies the best qualities of a leader in our naval service,” wrote Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Rear Adm. Charles W. Rock.



    Date Taken: 02.02.2022
    Date Posted: 02.02.2022 12:47
    Story ID: 413868
    Location: US

    Web Views: 170
    Downloads: 0