By Alan Nunn
GREAT LAKES, Ill. – Seaman Recruit Nicholas Lilley graduated as top sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 816, earning the Military Excellence Award on June 7.
The award is presented to the No. 1 recruit of the graduating training group. It is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork.
Lilley graduated from Sun Valley High School in 2013. In high school, Lilley was a member of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, National Honor Society and physics club. He served on missions to Kenya and Mexico with his church group. He pursued an associate degree in science at Central Piedmont Community College.
Lilley, 24, said joining the Navy has been a lifelong passion.
“In the military, there are opportunities to serve and grow in loads of ways,” Lilley said. “I know it will be something to help establish my future and take me around the world while doing so.”
Boot camp was not without its challenges. The toughest part of the eight weeks was being away from his family and girlfriend. He drew inspiration from his faith.
“I remember my first week here, I was asking myself ‘Where am I and what am I doing?’ But then I began a conversation with God that has pushed me through,” Lilley said. “This conversation was in recognition that it was Him that’s gotten me here and that this was something He was going to see me through.”
All enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values.
Lilley is assigned the rate of Navy diver. After graduation, Lilley will attend Navy diver preparatory school at Great Lakes, Illinois, followed by “A” School at Panama City, Florida.
Navy divers perform underwater salvage, recovery, repair and maintenance on ships and submarines. They search for and recover downed aircraft, conduct harbor clearance operations, and provide assistance to military, federal, state and local civilian law enforcement agencies in diving operations and procedures.
Alan Nunn works in public affairs for Recruit Training Command.