May 18, 2024

Colon Is MOAA Officer of the Year

LT CMDR Wanda Colon, a business and financial manager supporting the Common Aviation Support Equipment program office (PMA-260), receives the 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award from the Southern Maryland chapter of Military Officers Association of America. Pictured from left are LT CMDR Colon, retired Navy commander Greg Dalke of MOAA, retired Army colonel Neil Johnson of MOAA, and VADM Carl Chebi, NAVAIR commander.

LT CMDR Wanda Colon received the 2021 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award from the Military Officers Association of America.

NAVAIR’s VADM Carl Chebi presented the award to LT CMDR Colon in a ceremony November 18.

The award was established in 1981 by the Southern Maryland chapter of Military Officers Association of America to recognize exemplary junior officers and is named in honor of ADM Merlin O’Neill, commandant of the Coast Guard, from 1950 to 1954 and a prominent Southern Maryland resident in his later years. ADM O’Neill was a decorated veteran of World War II and known for taking a personal interest in the development of junior officers.

“The junior officers at Patuxent River are a force multiplier when it comes to supporting our mission here, and the Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year Award is one way the Navy highlights the achievement of these stellar leaders,” said Gary M. Kurtz, program executive officer, Aviation Common Systems and Commercial Services.

To be eligible, officers must be grade O-4 or below and may be from any service branch, to include US Coast Guard, assigned to activities onboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Particular emphasis must be placed on sustained superior performance and leadership. The officer’s emphasis on volunteer activities and involvement in community service are important factors in selection.

As a leader, LT CMDR Colon actively manages more than $100 million in programmatic funds as a budget and financial manager at PMA-260, achieving a 99.9% obligation rate, surpassing Financial Management and Budget benchmarks.

As the Navy Supply Corps Foundation Patuxent River chapter secretary, she coordinated the first NAVAIR Panel of Captains, providing mentorship to 37 Supply Corps officers of NAS Pax River, focusing on personal and professional development.

She aligns with the Chief of Naval Operation’s longstanding priority of taking care of people. LT CMDR Colon trained four NAVAIR interns this year in proper financial management processes, decreasing rework and increasing effectiveness through the DoD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution methods. As the PEO(CS) Common Spend Plan Tool representative, she was responsible for the creation of PMA-260’s CSPT business rules and spend plan guidance, facilitating organizational change throughout the command that directly supports NAVAIR production and financial objectives.

As the Naval Aviation Enterprise War Council operations officer, she was responsible for compiling all NAVAIR Direct War Overseas Contingency Operations requirements, ensuring these were included in the budget build and properly funded. Using lessons learned from the past, she identified and funded $803 million in direct war requirements for fiscal 2022, providing critical support for down range warfighters.

“An exceptional representative of PMA-260, Colon is extremely intelligent, capable, and manages all tasking with wisdom beyond her rank; all key attributes of a superior Naval Officer. Her personal involvement, astute insight, and tremendous work ethic continue to make a positive impact in my command,” said CAPT Robert Burgess, PMA-260 program manager.

The lieutenant commander is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church parish, where she volunteers as a Spanish speaking interpreter for the Spanish-speaking members of the congregation, serves as a server during Lent, and decorates the church in preparation for Christmas and Easter. She has participated in the Clean the Bay Day, clearing NAS Pax River beaches of trash and debris that washed ashore; and volunteers with the local chapter of Rebuilding Together, participating in Christmas in April to rehabilitate the homes of low-income families, focusing on elderly and disabled citizens of Southern Maryland.

This article was provided by NAVAIR News.

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