PHOTO: from left, Fetherman, Tracie, Vaccarella. (photo courtesy of MAST)
SANDY HOOK _ The three Navy veterans who comprise the Naval Science Department at MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology, have been named the School Team Educator of the Year, it was announced by the American Legion’s Department of New Jersey Adjutant John D. Baker.
Cdr. Tracie Smith-Yeoman, USN (ret), Senior Chief Mike Vaccarella, USN (ret) and Chief Wil Fetherman, USN (ret) were nominated for the honor by MAST principal Earl Moore who cited the team as “highly effective educators who as a unit, demonstrate the values, skills and knowledge required to be a model of Americanism to colleagues and an inspiration to students.”
The award, selected by the Legion’s NJ Department Americanism Committee, was created in 2016 to increase awareness of dedication and work educators across the state do in supporting of American Legion programs. Judging is based on leadership, participation in promoting Americanism programs as a team, civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism. The nomination also requires a recommendation from the team’s supervisor as well as documented evidence from media sources and photographs. The state team honored must also been judged the first-place winner in the county in which it is located.
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In nominating his faculty members, Moore cited his experience with the team over the past six years of his leadership, and noted that “both in and out of the classroom, this team of teachers demonstrates the level of dedication and passion for their country we hope the next generation of Americans will carry in our nation’s future.” He added he has “often been compelled to publicly acknowledge that MAST’s Naval instructors set the standard for what all teachers should strive for…to become role models as educators, leaders, and above all great Americans. “
CDR Smith-Yeoman, originally from Highlands and a graduate of Mater Dei High School, was commissioned through the NROTC program at the University of South Carolina, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in French. Upon commissioning, CDR Smith-Yeoman attended the Basic Diving Officer, Salvage Officer and Fundamentals of Munitions courses at Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, Panama City, Florida and was designated a Diving Officer. After completing Surface Warfare Officers School and the Diesel Engineering Officer of the Watch course at Newport, Rhode Island, she also completed the course of Supply Indoctrination for Line Officers at Athens, Georgia. CDR Smith-Yeoman reported to the USS CONSERVER (ARS 39) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, serving as the Supply Officer and one of the Diving Officers, later transferred to Commander, Support Squadron FIVE and served as Assistant Salvage Officer. Upon her separation from active duty and with the Navy Reserves, CDR Smith-Yeoman served with Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two detachment 304 in Philadelphia, and later with Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 204 at Fort Dix.
CDR Smith-Yeoman returned to active duty for three years as the Officer in Charge of MIUWU 204. During her tenure with the unit, the MIUWU deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Camp Patriot, Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following her transition back to the Reserves, CDR Smith-Yeoman assumed command of Naval Security Force Naval Weapons Station Earle, where she served with many accomplished law enforcement professionals. She returned to active duty to serve as Commanding Officer of NOSC Earle, overseeing the mobilization of many reservists in support of OIF/OEF. Upon completion of that tour, she returned to the drilling reserves as CO of both an Operational Support Unit and a Voluntary Training Unit. Retiring from the Navy in December 2012, CDR Smith-Yeoman accepted the position of Senior Naval Science Instructor in the NJROTC program at MAST. The unit has earned many accolades, including being designated as a Distinguished Unit with Academic Honors for 34 consecutive years.
The officer’s awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with hourglass and “M” device, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Expert Rifle, and Expert Pistol. She is married to Chief Petty Officer Chris Yeoman, and they are the parents of Angus, a midshipman in the University of South Carolina NROTC program.
Senior Chief Michael Vaccarella, a resident of Matawan, and a 1984 graduate of Matawan Regional High School entered the Navy in 1987. His various sea duty stations include the USS Conyingham (DDG 17), USS Detroit (AOE 4), USS Supply (AOE 6), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), and as senior enlisted leader onboard the Patrol Coastal platforms Tornado, Chinook, Firebolt, and Hurricane, PC Crew Foxtrot, and Naval Cargo Handling and Port Group. His shore duty stations include Combat Logistics Squadron Two, and Naval Health Clinic New England as program director of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. Throughout his career, Senior Chief Vaccarella’s deployments included operations in the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, Haitian and Cuban migration operations, drug interdiction operations in the Gulf of Mexico, two deployments to Antarctica, and multiple deployments in support of the maritime pre-positioned fleet. His awards and decorations include four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, multiple Good Conduct awards, the Antarctica Service Medal, and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist. Vaccarella earned a BS in liberal arts, retired from active duty in September 2009, and has been employed as a Navy JROTC instructor since October 2009 at MAST.
Chief Wil Fetherman, who has been an instructor at MAST since 2011, completed basic training and hospital corpsman school in 1989, and served at the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina as a hospital corpsman for five years, then returned there for another three years after serving at NWS Earle in Colts Neck four years. He also served at the Navy Health Clinic, Washington, DC, with the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force at Indian Head, Maryland, and the Naval Branch Health Clinic in Groton, Connecticut. He is the recipient of the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Award, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Southwest Asia Service Medal (with the Eagle, Globe and Anchor, denoting service with the Marine Corps), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with EGA), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Volunteer Service Medal, Sea Service ribbon, NATO Medal, and Enlisted Fleet Marine Force warfare designator. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Touro University, and master’s degrees from both Touro University and Fort State Hays University, Kansas.
The Team Educator award will be presented at the annual American Legion Convention and luncheon in Wildwood June 13.