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The Navy bestowed its most prestigious leadership prize on the skipper of a ballistic-missile submarine and the head of an East Coast based SEAL team, the service said in a fleetwide message posted Thursday night.
The recipients of the Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Award for leadership, given to the fleet’s two best O-5 commanding officers: Cmdr. Richard Massie, CO of the ballistic-missile sub Maine’s gold crew, who won for the Pacific Fleet; and Cmdr. Leif Mollo, CO of SEAL Team 4, who won for Fleet Forces Command.
The award is considered the fleet’s top leadership award and given to those who embody the ethos of the late vice admiral, who received the Medal of Honor for leading prisoner-of-war resistance efforts against his North Vietnamese captors. The award is unique in that officers must be nominated by an eligible peer — a pool limited to those in command of operational units, including ships, subs, squadrons, special boat and explosive ordnance disposal teams.
Mollo is only the second SEAL to win the leadership award, and the first in six years.
Both recipients are Naval Academy grads who join the pantheon of previous winners, including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert and Adm. Cecil Haney, the Pacific Fleet commander.
The naval message issued by Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the chief of naval personnel, does not include the award citations or say why they were chosen.
Mollo, 42, is a 1992 academy grad from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., who has served five tours in SEAL teams, according to his personnel records. During his 21-year career, he has received the Bronze Star Medal with combat ‘V’ device, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Bronze Star Medal twice, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and seven Commendation Medals, as well as unit and campaign awards. Mollo served with the Little Creek, Va.-based Seal Team 4 for 2½ years and is now assigned to Navy Personnel Command.
Massie, 43, graduated a year later from the academy and hails from Spring, Texas. Massie has served the aboard attack subs Helena and La Jolla and the guided-missile sub Ohio. Massie took command of Maine’s gold crew in 2010. He has received two Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy Commendation Medals and two Navy Achievement Medals, according to his personnel records.
CNP also named seven runners-up:
For the Pacific Fleet: Cmdr. Jeremy Brunn, former CO of Strike Fighter Squadron 137; Cmdr. Justin Kubu, former CO of the destroyer Chafee; Cmdr. Craig Mattingly, former CO of Patrol Squadron 9; and Cmdr. Richard Seif, former CO of the attack submarine Jacksonville.
And for Fleet Forces: Cmdr. Adam Aycock, former CO of the destroyer Mahan; Cmdr. Matthew Burton, CO of the attack sub Scranton; and Cmdr. Edward Anderson, former CO of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 72.