ABOARD USS KEARSARGE --
When a Marine receives an award, his fellow unit members share the pride of having one of their own recognized for his accomplishments.
Marines with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit have twice as many reasons to share that pride, with two unit members selected to receive the prestigious Copernicus Award this year.
Captain Glenn Berdela and Staff Sgt. Juan Padilla, both with 26th MEU's Command Element, were selected as Copernicus Award recipients this year, according to Navy Administrative Message 388/10.
"I am not used to being recognized," said Padilla. "It is an honor and feels really great to receive the Copernicus Award."
Established in 1997, the Copernicus Award recognizes individual contributions to Naval warfare in Command Control Communications Computers and Intelligence (C4I). The awards are sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.
Recipients are selected based on their sustained superior performance in a C4I or information technology-related job. The selections are made each year by Navy judges who review applications from the departments of the Navy and Coast Guard, including active duty servicemembers and civilians.
Padilla received the award for his aggressive pursuit of technically challenging new means of extending information access in the deployed environment. Berdela earned his for establishing new benchmarks for excellence in expeditionary and amphibious communications systems as a technically-advanced systems operator and data planner.
26th MEU can boast consistent leadership in the field. Capt. Jonathan J. Pfuntner with 26th MEU received the Copernicus Award in 2009.
Padilla said the Marines he works with are right to share in the pride.
"I give the recognition to my Marines in the Radio shop," he said. "They are truly the real operators who make this happen. I could not ask for a better team of Marines."