From helmets and hoses to high seas strikes – a first responder from Peterborough who joined the US Navy has been recognized as Junior Sailor of the Year aboard an aircraft carrier deployed since early July.
Before joining the military four years ago, Tyler Papagni, 27, lived in Peterborough and is a member of Peterborough Fire and Rescue, he said in an email to The Sentinel. In a ceremony on November 8, Papagni was named Junior Sailor of the Year. Currently deployed aboard the USS Carl Vinson, Papagni is an on-ship logistics specialist, a role that involves maintaining aircraft combat readiness and puts it in charge of approximately 15,000 tools, a he declared. He is also a CPR instructor for his command as well as an assistant chief of physical conditioning.
âTo be recognized as Sailor of the Year is an absolute honor and privilege. There were a lot of qualified candidates to choose from, âPapagni said in an email to The Sentinel. âI am happy to see that my work has not gone unnoticed and has earned the respect of my subordinates.
The prestigious award recognizes sailors who best represent qualities including leadership, professionalism, self-improvement and “superior personal appearance,” according to Papagni’s commanding officer, Sylvester Foley.
To be named Junior Sailor of the Year, Papagni was nominated from a group of 32 senior third-class officers and was selected from four stellar finalists for the award, Foley said.
âLS3 Papagni is an exceptional sailor and leader and currently oversees 13 junior staff,â he said. “He always has a positive attitude and demonstrates exceptional mastery of any task assigned to him.”
Among the accolades related to the Junior Sailor of the Year award, Papagni received a Medal of Honor from the Navy and Marine Corps, a reserved parking space at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., A promenade on the backseat in a fighter jet, and his name and hometown will be on an FA-18-E plane (although, Papagni clarified, he grew up in Coventry, RI, so the jet isn’t likely to read âPeterborough.â)
In addition to his experience with the Navy, Papagni said his time with Peterborough Fire and Rescue had a significant impact on him.
“… [M]’experience with PFR has been nothing but gratifying,’ he said. âEvery day has its own challenges, but knowing that you are helping someone in need gives you a huge sense of pride. “
Peterborough Deputy Fire Chief Brian Wall has known the Rhode Island native since before Papagni joined the fire department. Wall’s son Thomas and Papagni cohabited at college and both joined Peterborough Fire and Rescue several years ago.
“When [Papagni] entered the department, he entered extremely calm, almost introverted, âWall said. “But between all the training and the camaraderie, he really came out of his shell and really started to excel … the firefighters were great for him, and he was great for us.”
Papagni earned his fire certificate, became an EMT, and learned to drive fire trucks – all important steps in a career as a firefighter, Wall said. Papagni is on military leave from Peterborough Fire and Rescue, Wall added, but is in regular contact with the service and has retained his medical certifications.
âHe’s really like my family,â Wall said. “We are so happy and proud of him.”
Although Papagni was unable to comment on the ship’s whereabouts earlier this week, the Vinson made stops in Japan and Guam, the latter of which Papagni particularly appreciated, describing it as “a hidden gem for those who love the tropics “. Another momentous experience was when Papagni was named Sailor of the Day earlier on this deployment, which allowed him to meet the leaders of the Vinson and drive the ship himself – “which I’m sure few people can say they were able to do it, âhe said.
âServing both the US Navy and Peterborough Fire Rescue have been two experiences that I would never change nor return to,â he said. â… It has helped me learn that there is no greater feeling than living for a purpose greater than yourself. “