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Retired U.S. Navy Command Master Chief David Dearie presents Corporal Zachary Martinez with the 2019 Making a Difference Award during the Fleet Week Enlisted Recognition Luncheon at SeaWorld. (courtesy photo)

San Diego Squadron Marine Presented Annual Making a Difference Award

Award Recognizes Contributions to the San Diego Community Above and Beyond Military Service

San Diego CA— U.S. Navy retired Command Master Chief David Dearie presented Lance Corporal Zachary Martinez with the USAA sponsored Making a Difference Award at the Fleet Week Enlisted Recognition Luncheon yesterday.  The annual award honors a service member in San Diego who exceeds the commitments of their enlistment through noteworthy service in the community.

Speaking to an audience of nearly 500 sailors, Marines, coast guardsmen, and military supporters from around the county, Dearie said, “First off, I want to thank all of you who came.  I have no doubt that all of you in your own way are contributing back to the community.”

More than 20 service members from military commands throughout San Diego were nominated for the award.  That number was narrowed down to five finalist:  Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Dylan Knudsen from U.S. Coast Guard Station San Diego, Marine Corps Cpl. Kevin Kurz from Marine Aeriel Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Navy Chief Petty Officer Melanie Ragle from USS Daniel Inouye, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Raymundo Soria from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, and the Making a Difference winner, Martinez, who serves with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11.

In addition to his responsibilities at the squadron, Martinez supported 10 events at Sandburg Elementary School promoting health and fitness to the students, volunteered during the annual Veterans Village Stand Down to help homeless veterans, and devoted 315 hours to support morale and community building events for single Marines and sailors at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.  Martinez also worked on base to encourage 30 other Marines to volunteer in the community.

“I do my volunteer events not to be recognized but to actually just help out our community.  That’s all I care about.  It’s what’s going on now and who I help today,” Martinez said.  “I want everyone else here to think about volunteering as well because it the most amazing feeling you will ever have.”

Combined, this year’s finalists contributed a recorded 1,228 hours in and around San Diego coordinating beach clean ups, volunteering at the children’s hospital, mentoring students, and helping the homeless.  Each of the nominees received prizes honoring these contributions.

“Our Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsman do so much more than serve our country in meeting national defense objectives,” said Gordon Rutherford, Fleet Week San Diego 2019 Board President.  “They are active contributors in our community, and selecting just one of them for the Making a Difference Award, was no easy task.”

2019 Fleet Week San Diego Board President Gordon Rutherford recognizes Petty Officer 1st Class Tyellis Greenprice’s heroic efforts this past July when he saved a man from a car wreck. (courtesy photo)

The Making a Difference Award finalists weren’t the only service members on site who were acknowledged for their efforts.  The Fleet Week Foundation also presented a surprise special recognition award to Petty Officer 1st Class Tyellis Greenprice, who rescued a driver who was trapped following a multi-vehicle accident in July.

“Tyellis ran across traffic to the smoke-filled vehicle and evacuated the driver away from the flammable hazard.  He then stabilized the driver until the Emergency Medical Service arrived,” Rutherford said.  “When we heard about these events, we knew we needed to do something special to recognize his heroic achievements as well.”

Rutherford added, “Tyellis, Zachary, and many other service members do amazing things in communities across the nation all the time.  It’s important that we recognize their contributions.”

This year’s Enlisted Recognition Luncheon was sponsored by Cubic and held at SeaWorld San Diego.

More information other upcoming Fleet Week San Diego events can be found at www.fleetweeksandiego.org.

About Fleet Week San Diego

Fleet Week San Diego is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation created by community and business leaders to honor and celebrate the men and women of the military through public events and alliances that support and thank these heroes.  The Chamber of Commerce gave birth to Fleet Week San Diego in 1997 and by 2001 the event had grown into a nonprofit California Public Benefit Corporation. By expressing its support for the contributions made by the naval services to the many communities of the greater San Diego region, Fleet Week San Diego helps to maintain the vision of San Diego as a patriotic, pro-military city.