By Alan Nunn, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs
Seaman Recruit Kade Stepan, a native of Mosinee, Wisconsin, graduated as top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 348, earning the Military Excellence Award on September 20.
Stepan said he was surprised and excited upon learning he had received the MEA.
“Winning the MEA means that I am off to a very good start to my career in the Navy,” Stepan said. “I will continue to do my very best and show my commitment to the Navy.”
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed him at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors. Stepan was awarded a flag letter of commendation for his achievements.
Stepan, 19, is a 2019 graduate of Mosinee High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, Badger Boys State and a three-sport athlete who graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.
Stepan said his love for his country spurred his decision to join the Navy.
“I joined the Navy over the other branches because I feel it is the most necessary branch of U.S. military in regard to national defense,” Stepan said. “I also believe the Navy offers more opportunities for its members.”
Stepan credited his Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jessica Barnes, Culinary Specialist 1st Class Darius Binion, and Aviation Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Sean Tracy for their leadership and guidance.
“Chief Barnes highly motivated me,” Stepan said. “Chief Barnes is very passionate about the Navy. He would show it every day and always pushed me and my shipmates to be the best sailors we could be. However, I cannot excluded my other RDCs, who also motivated me to be the best sailor possible.”
Stepan said the toughest part of boot camp was being away from his family.
“My family means everything to me and leaving them to join the Navy was very difficult,” Stepan said. “I eventually overcame this when I got my first phone call and talked to my father, Tad Stepan, who told me to keep pushing and that my last name should be all I need to push me through boot camp.”
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 35,000 recruits are trained annually at RTC and begin their Navy careers.
Stepan is assigned the rate of electrician’s mate (nuclear).
After graduation, Stepan will attend Electrician’s Mate Nuclear Field “A” School in Charleston, South Carolina. Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) operate and maintain Naval Nuclear propulsion plants and associated equipment. They supervise and administer Naval Nuclear propulsion plant operations, and thoroughly understand reactor, electrical, and mechanical theory involved in the operation of the nuclear reactor, steam plant, propulsion plant, and auxiliary equipment.