Jonesville native selected as Navy Training’s 2017 Instructor of the Year finalist

By Rick Burke - For The Tribune
Vestal -

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A 1996 Starmount High School, Boonville, North Carolina, graduate and Jonesville, North Carolina, native was selected as a 2017 officer Military Instructor of the Year (IOY) finalist for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) at a ceremony onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola at the National Naval Aviation Museum Dec. 14.

While serving at Information Warfare Training Command Virginia Beach, Virginia, Lt. Shannon Vestal served as the active and reserve course supervisor at the Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course. He taught new intelligence officers in various mission areas to prepare them for fleet tours.

Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, NETC commander, congratulated all the finalists in each category for their roles in shaping the Navy’s future force and for their contributions to the training and education mission.

“You represent the best of the very best throughout the domain,” said Cozad. “Each one of you here today has a common theme: a hard work ethic, a drive to be a better leader, and teamwork. Each and every one of you is a competitor, and that competitive edge is the thing that makes our Navy better than the other navies today.”

Vestal is qualified as a Master Training Specialist, which is a designation for demonstrating highly effective teaching skills and a comprehensive understanding of schoolhouse management, as well as for taking a leadership role in mentoring, instructing and evaluating instructors and curriculum.

“I was able to build a fantastic team concept with truly amazing junior officers and civilians,” said Vestal. “They helped me drive the mission when I was away and our teamwork allowed the course to progress seamlessly over my 37-month tour. I learned to quickly gauge people, trust, and let them execute the mission without being hands-on.”

Vestal said he enjoyed his tour at a training command.

“You are able to shape and guide new naval officers in a critical time period of their career,” said Vestal. “You’re setting the tone for a rewarding career in the intelligence profession, no matter the length of time they serve.”

Out of approximately 8,000 instructors within NETC, Vestal was one of two finalists who competed for the 2017 officer IOY. He received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his achievements.

The IOY recognition ceremony concluded a week of activities in Pensacola honoring the nominated candidates.

“Seeing the professionalism and dedication of all these outstanding Instructor of the Year finalists only validates the phrase ‘Fleet Readiness Starts Here,’” said NETC Force Master Chief Karim Cole during the ceremony. “I am confident that we have the right people in place to train, guide and get our Sailors ready to man the fleet.”

Vestal has a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University.

“I aspire to complete as many years of naval service I am able to,” said Vestal. “My goals are leading the personnel I encounter, impacting the mission, and continuing to develop personally and professionally in support of the Navy, no matter the job or billet I fulfill.”

The NETC IOY program recognize Sailors throughout the NETC domain who exhibit attributes, such as sustained superior performance, leadership, mentorship, knowledge and teaching of military history and heritage, self-improvement, command and community involvement, and exemplary military bearing.

NETC is the largest shore command in the Navy and is comprised of more than 12,000 military and staff personnel at more than 230 subordinate activities and detachments in the United States and at remote sites overseas. NETC provides training and education to more than 31,000 students on any given day.

Rick Burke works in the Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs.


By Rick Burke

For The Tribune