The U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief, James “Smitty” Tocorzic, was recently recognized with the Distinguished West Virginian Award for outstanding achievement and meritorious service. The award honors a citizen’s service to West Virginia, and is the highest award presented by the governor.
Tocorzic is a native of Shinnston, West Virginia and a graduate of Lincoln High School in Shinnston, West Virginia. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1989. He has served for over 30 years with duties as a P-3 flight engineer, drill instructor (recruit division commander), and Command Master Chief. He has held numerous senior enlisted leader positions to include multiple aircraft carriers, Naval Air Forces Pacific, and in his current role he serves as the Fleet Master Chief of the world’s largest naval command, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Del. Clay Riley, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, submitted his name to Governor Jim Justice for the prestigious award in recognition of his service to his state and the nation.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Governor Justice and Delegate Riley for this honor,” said Tocorzic. “I have always been proud of my home state. The Navy has afforded me great opportunities to serve, see the world, and engage with partner nations — all while representing the great state of West Virginia.”
Tocorzic noted that peers in partner nation militaries often cite John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with enthusiasm when learning that he hails from the mountain state.
“It’s interesting that no matter where I visit in the world, people are always familiar with that song,” said Tocorzic. “I’m even more impressed that they know the words and sing it, quite well actually. For me it’s a great way to share my home state and the nation I’m proud to serve. Everyone has a place they fondly call home. That’s why we serve — to protect our loved ones and that special place.”