Military Sealift Command Far East's Sailor of the Quarter, Petty Officer Lucas Robinson, grew up in Shawneetown.
He says almost everyone knows each other in the close-knit community. Robinson adds that many of the 800 Illinoisans who live there lend a hand to one another day in and day out.
When he left the "The Land of Lincoln" to join what he calls "the greatest Navy in the world," Robinson did so to honor a special, fellow resident of Shawneetown -- his brother, who also enlisted in the Navy.
"The reason for my service to the United States Navy is to honor him to my fullest respects," the first class boatswain's mate said.
Being on ships can sometimes feel like living in a small town. On USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), Robinson's first assignment in the Navy, fellow crew members became like family. In the six years he was on board, he got to know everyone.
It's much the same for him in Japan. In the last 13 months, he's gotten to know fellow sailors, Japanese officials, and representatives from a variety of U.S. and host nation agencies.
At Military Sealift Command Office Okinawa, Robinson manages a pretty demanding -- but important -- load, in a vast and strategic region.
As MSCO Okinawa's boarding officer, Robinson is responsible for ensuring all necessary clearances from both Japan and the United States are received, allowing U.S. Navy ships to come pierside. He tracks requirements and deadlines and submits customs clearance requests, which help ships' crews and cargo successfully and efficiently enter Japan. Robinson carefully tracks ships' schedules and follows up when those schedules change, as they inevitably do.
Without his attention to every detail, MSC's ships could miss critical resupply opportunities; crew members couldn't enjoy well-deserved liberty; and much-needed maintenance might not get done. His interagency coordination contributes to mission accomplishment for Military Sealift Command, the U.S. Army, and the Japanese Coast Guard.
"BM1 Robinson is a force multiplier," said Gary Boldes, director of MSCO Okinawa.
"He has the unique ability to manage many tasks simultaneously and really knows how to prioritize, which ensure that both the MSCO and arriving ships receive exceptional service."
Boldes says these are just a couple of the reasons he nominated Robinson for Sailor of the Quarter honors.
Out of all the sailors assigned to Military Sealift Command Far East, whose area of responsibility spans the entire Indo-Pacific Region, from the international date line to Diego Garcia to the Northeast corner of Russia, down to Antarctica, Robinson was chosen for the top slot for the first quarter of the fiscal year.
"Being selected as the Sailor of the Quarter is a great honor and accomplishment to me," Robinson said. "I am privileged for the opportunity to be evaluated alongside my fellow shipmates. The Far East region has amazing Sailors, and I could not be more grateful for the recognition."
His boss says it's an honor Robinson earned.
In addition to his primary responsibilities as MSCO Okinawa's boarding officer, Robinson volunteered to take on numerous additional duties. Collateral jobs include the unit's IT representative, the command pay and personnel administrator while the position was gapped, and the manager of the command's physical fitness program.
Robinson takes these jobs just as seriously as he does his primary one. He believes his collateral duties help Military Sealift Command maintain vital communications and mission readiness.
"BM1 has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and has shown unique versatility as he adapted and overcame challenges related to tasks not associated with his rank or rating," Boldes said.
"He can be relied on to perform any assigned task with outstanding results."
While Boldes boasts of Robinson's contributions to mission accomplishment, Robinson, who is working on a bachelor's degree in computer network and cybersecurity from University of Maryland Global Campus, says he is happiest serving others.
When pandemic-related precautions and protocols limited civil service and contracted mariners' mobility in Japan, Robinson stepped up. He delivered toiletries, food, and other supplies to ship-bound crew members.
"The most gratifying part of the job is supplying the sailors onboard the ships with their personal items. The smiles and appreciation received after this action is instant gratification."
Gratified and grateful. That's how Robinson feels right now.
"I just want to thank my leadership for nominating and selecting me as Sailor of the Quarter," Robinson said.
"Their admirable guidance has helped me become a better Sailor and person.
"I will stay with Military Sealift Command as long as they allow me to."