Copernicus Awards Honor Sustained Superior Performance

May 1, 2020

The 2020 Copernicus Awards honoring superior performance in C4I/IT-related jobs in fiscal year 2019 were awarded to 23 individuals by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. The deserving recipients were selected based on their sustained superior performance as well as demonstrated leadership, insight and initiative. Honorees were proudly recognized at the West 2020 conference in San Diego. Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler, USN; Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, USCG; and Lt. Gen. Loretta Reynolds, USMC, presented the awards alongside Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), on behalf of AFCEA, and Vice Adm. Peter Daley, USN (Ret.), on behalf of the U.S. Naval Institute. Awardees who were not able to attend West in San Diego will be recognized at TechNet Cyber in Baltimore. Look for announcements in an upcoming issue of SIGNAL Magazine.

The Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Copernicus Award recipients led efforts and demonstrated ingenuity to develop and restore functionality, increase efficiency and upgrade systems. They implemented and headed processes to support their teams and worked with different stakeholders to continuously improve unit systems. Working with commitment, excellence and dedication, their innovation advanced mission capabilities and improved services for years to come.

The honorees stood out among an exceptional group of nominations. One judge commented that, “It is just amazing to me the level of responsibility … and their ability to perform at a high level.” Adding, “It is also a testament to the leadership of the supervisors and commanding officers that took the time to document and submit these nominations so that their personnel could potentially be appropriately recognized for their achievements.”

More information about the Copernicus Award can be found on the Educational Foundation website at 

U.S. Naval Institute essay contest winners pictured above (back row, far l) Lt. John Miller, USN, and Maj. Brian Kerg, USMC, join Copernicus Award winners accepting at West 2020 (back row, l-r) Capt. Benjamin N. Opel, USMC, 9th Communication Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group; Capt. Victor G. Castro, USMC, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity; Capt. Caleb Y. Wu, USMC, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity; Capt. Michael A. Rogers, USMC, Tactical Air Control Squadron Eleven; Information Systems Technician Chief Jonathan E. Fehling, USN, Naval Special Warfare Development Group; Information Systems Technician Senior Chief Zachary A. Mollette, USN, Center for Information Warfare Training; (front row, l-r) Information Systems Technician Chief Erick L. Tiernan, USN, USS Boxer (LHD 4); Lt. Derek R. Campbell, USCG, USCG Telecommunication and Information Systems Command; Information Systems Technician First Class Andrew L. Leaf, USN, USS Benfold (DDG 65); Lt. Junior Grade Lucas R. Foppe, USN, Navy Information Operations Command Hawaii; Lt. Cmdr. Kasey A. Brehme, USN, Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, San Diego; Information Systems Technician First Class Patrick J. Berger, USN, USS Somerset (LPD 25); and Information Systems Technician First Class Andrew W. Freil, USN, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

Copernicus Award winners not pictured who were in attendance at West are Lt. Junior Grade Jeffrey A. Baez, USN, USS Princeton (CG 59), and Lt. Brian J. Caplan, USN, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Joint Intelligence Operations Center.

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