Seaman Recruit Austin Grodt, a 2014 Canyon Hills High School in Anaheim, California, graduate and Orange, California, native, graduated as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command, Division 808, earning the Military Excellence Award on Feb. 1.
“Being honored with the MEA has made me recognize the time and effort that countless people have given me in order to reach this point,” Grodt said. “Humility and an insatiable drive has to remain at the forefront of my mind throughout my Naval career if I am to pay back those who have sacrificed so much.”
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing and teamwork. The award placed him at the pinnacle of today’s newest Sailors. Grodt was awarded a flag letter of commendation for his achievements.
Grodt, 23, continued his education at the University of California San Diego, in La Jolla, California, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental chemistry in 2018. Grodt performed marine biomaterials research with Scripps Institution of Oceanography aboard the NOAAS Reuben Lasker (R 228). He has been a California State Parks lifeguard for five years.
Grodt said he joined the Navy to help others.
“I joined to fulfill a desire to give options to others by removing the obstacles preventing them from following their passions and living lives of their own choosing,” Grodt said. “Specifically, I want to remove oppressors, dictators, terrorists, gangs, and others from around the world — allowing people to live freely.”
Grodt credited his Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Rodney Rozier, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jorge Monarez and Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Joseph Hays for their leadership and guidance.
He also thanked his parents, Stephen and Beverly Grodt, whom he said have inspired and motivated him throughout his life.
“I especially owe where I am today to my parents,” Grodt said. “They never forced anything upon me, but if I chose to accomplish something, they pushed me to do so with all of my ability. The best lesson they have ever imparted upon me is to never allow regret to enter my life. Without that lesson, I would never have had to the courage to make the leap into the Navy.”
Grodt said the toughest part of boot camp was learning to effectively lead and communicate.
“Recruits have diverse backgrounds, reasons for joining the Navy, and motivation levels, which if not addressed, could potentially lead to failure of an evolution,” Grodt said. “To combat this, our division had to get to know each fellow recruit as an individual first and learn each other’s quirks and ticks, in order to positively push each other to success.”
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and 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, teamwork and discipline. More than 30,0000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
Grodt was assigned the rate of special warfare operator.
After graduation, Grodt will attend the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School in Great Lakes, Illinois. Special Warfare Operators perform a multitude of duties in support of special operations missions and operate on, under and from the sea, in the air and on land. These duties require skills in combat diving, paradrop and air operations, small boat operations, submarine and submersible operations, land warfare, small unit tactics, mounted and dismounted operations, small arms and crew served weapons, explosives, communications, tactical medicine, mission planning, intelligence gathering and interpretation, joint and combined operations, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense measures in all environments including urban, desert, jungle, arctic, and mountain warfare.