NBK Commanding Officer receives civic award

By Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Rowley on April 7, 2016

Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer Capt. Thomas Zwolfer received the Hyas Tyee award at the Kitsap Golf and Country Club from the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce March 31.

The Hyas Tyee award is given to someone who was selected by past presidents and current board of directors of the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce and must have served in a position of significant leadership while making significant contributions to the community and be an exemplary role model.

"Receiving the award is a testament to the valuable work done by the military personnel and civilian workforce of Naval Base Kitsap," said Zwolfer. "I have the privilege of leading their impressive commitment to serving the fleet, fighter and family. We are a part of the local community and always do our best to be good neighbors."

He continued, "Although the award bears my name, I consider this award a show of appreciation for the efforts of the entire NBK team."

Hyas Tyee means "great leader" in the language of Chinook. The ceremony, in the past, was conducted in both English and Chinook.

Gena Whales, Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, said, "Zwolfer was selected for this award for his service to community."

Zwolfer is involved in the community in many ways including; regular Government-to-Government consultations with local tribes, serving on the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council and participates in public meetings regarding land use issues, and participating in Poulsbo's Touch-a-Truck event, National Night Out and other community events.

"The Hyas Tyee award is an honor many military leaders in our area are familiar with," said Zwolfer. "Given the quality of our local military leaders, receiving the notification of the award was a humbling moment."

The Hyas Tyee award is one of two civic awards presented by the Bremerton Chamber, the other being the Thunderbird award. The first individual to receive the esteemed Hyas Tyee, or Great Leader, award was Adm. E. W. Sylvester. Sylvester received the award in 1950.

"This is the most welcoming community I have been a part of in my twenty-eight years in the Navy," said Zwolfer. "I hope to continue my personal involvement in the local community when I move on in September to my next position as Chief of Staff, Navy Region Northwest. The culture at Naval Base Kitsap is one of providing exceptional service to the fleet, fighter and family and to engage with our neighbors in the local community, so I'm confident that strong culture will continue when I depart."