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Honorable mention, 2013 Navy Times Sailor of the Year: Fusco

Jul. 15, 2013 - 07:42PM   |  
MA1 (EXW) Matt Fusco
MA1 (EXW) Matt Fusco ()
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Job description: Assistant leading petty officer for Coastal Riverine Squadron 3’s Delta Company, 1st Platoon, in Yorktown, Va., supervising 54 sailors.
Personal: 28 years old, married to Jessika. From Chillicothe, Ohio.

Master-at-arms 1st class (EXW) Matt Fusco

Fusco spent a lot of time on foreign turf in 2012, navigating the Panama Canal on an escort mission and training military forces in Guatemala and Peru.

But the 28-year-old riverine also spent more than 400 hours volunteering at home, leading sailors in the construction of a Revolutionary War replica gunboat for the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown, Va., and managing donations for a local pet pantry.

Fusco’s leaders say he’s a “role model sailor” and “consistent performer” who proved “vital” to the mission. Fusco led gun shoots and safety briefs in preparation for his command’s Panama mission, which saw them escorting a submarine through the canal and on its way to decommissioning. The men had to swap their more “menacing” riverine boats, Fusco said, for 25-foot Oswald-class vessels. It required a lot of new training and Fusco was vital to that prep work, his leaders said, especially when it came to operating the weapon systems.

In September he traveled to Guatemala to help forces there refine their riverine tactics and boat-driving skills. He spent October in Peru on a similar training mission. In total he spent 425 hours supervising instructors and students.

His love of history inspired him to lead construction on a replica gunboat modeled after the USS Philadelphia, a Continental Navy vessel sunk by the Royal Navy during the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain. Fusco said he hopes the replica, made mostly of white oak, will soon sail the York River.

Chief Operations Specialist (EXW/SW/AW) Dion Dupree said the petty officer goes out of his way to help. In the spring, while traveling to Little Creek, Va., Fusco and a few of his sailors witnessed a car veer across lanes of traffic, drive across a grass median and stop in the face of incoming traffic. Fusco took immediate action and ordered sailors to pull over. Stopping traffic, Fusco and the other sailors removed the driver, a stunned young man, from his vehicle, and stayed with him until authorities arrived.

“Petty Officer Fusco’s actions were consistent with his everyday demeanor and personality, taking care of others and maintaining a clear head in stressful situations,” Dupree said.

Fusco encourages sailors to consider joining the riverine community.

“If any sailor wants to challenge himself in a dynamic environment, they should definitely come here,” he said.

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