SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
SAN DIEGO – The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and U.S. Naval Institute recognized Master Sgt. Zachary B. Williams, a ground electronics system maintenance Marine assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), with the 2022 Copernicus Award at the AFCEA Western Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California, Feb. 16, 2022.
Every year, civilians and active-duty service members from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are honored with the Copernicus Award for their sustained and superior performance in their command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I)/ information technology-related job fields. The achievements of each recipient demonstrates their initiative, effort and competency within their area of expertise.
As a maintenance Marine with over 18 years of experience, Williams is tasked with supporting troops when equipment is broken, but his favorite part of the job is observing his Marines find solutions to obstacles through independent problem-solving.
“It is nice to be recognized,” said Williams. “Even though we (maintenance Marines) aren’t always on the front lines, we are able to support the warfighter in any clime or place.”
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Burton, previous communication officer for the 15th MEU and Williams’ previous supervisor, nominated Williams for the 2022 Copernicus Award for his accomplishments and achievements during a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.
“Master Sgt. Williams is a tremendous communications electronics maintenance Marine,” said Burton. “His initiative and foresight allowed the 15th MEU to maintain communications support anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice in three separate combatant commands.”
In 2021, Williams supported over 5,000 Marines and Sailors with the 15th MEU embarked aboard the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), conducting ship-to-shore operations and maintaining communication between the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps from air, land and sea in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central Command.
“Master Sgt. Williams understands every aspect of his job,” said Burton. “His ability to interact with all of the various entities aboard Makin Island ARG on three separate staffs [referred to information technology specialists (ITs), electronic technicians (ETs) and information communications specialists (ICs)], ensured that we were always nested and ahead of any material concerns with our equipment.”
Burton added that the one trait that separated Williams from his peers is his ability to easily build relationships and network with people to get any job done. When items required repair, even during hours of time off, Williams did not hesitate to reach out to his network to conduct maintenance to support the mission and his team.
“This award was well deserved,” said Burton. “Master Sgt. Williams is one of the best (ground electronics system) maintenance Marines I have observed in (my) 16 and a half years of service.”