Volunteer hours sparkle on a resume when it comes to increasing the likelihood of a promotion or advancing in a career, but for Master at Arms First Class Margaret Clay, volunteering means something entirely different.

"I go back to when I enlisted and think, ‘Why did I join the Navy?’ To make a difference, and that’s what I want to do with the time I have available," said Clay, whose fellow sailors say does not document the extensive time she puts into volunteer work, choosing instead to remain as anonymous as possible.

Clay is an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Navy Times Sailor of the Year competition. 

Since 2015, Maggie Clay has been stationed at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, where she has served as an anti-terrorism planner attached to the 628th Security Force Squadron.



In this role, Clay oversees the anti-terrorism program for 60 Defense Department and federal agencies, servicing a total population of over 86,000 people. The responsibility of protection resting on her shoulders amounts to $5.2 billion of physical infrastructure across 23,000 acres.

It's a job that has grown more central to the Navy's mission in recent years since the spate of terrorist attacks on military bases, including the shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2015 that killed four Marines and a sailor. 

A recipient of six Navy Achievement Medals, Clay was selected in 2016 as both the Naval Support Activity Charleston Sailor of the Year and the Women in Defense Palmetto Chapter Military Woman of the Year for contributions to national security and for a dedication to the advancement of women in the military.

In 2013, she earned the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center Sailor of the Year. Petty Officer Clay is also one of only a handful of sailors to receive the Air Force Achievement Medal, which she earned for her actions in supporting emergency operations during Hurricane Matthew.

Balancing duties as a sailor while simultaneously pursuing higher education and philanthropic endeavors within the community has earned Clay a reputation for diligence, selflessness and humility.

Originally from Illinois, Clay has used her spare time to volunteer with the Military Lunch Buddy mentorship program, working with a young student with special needs at nearby Hanahan Elementary School. Additionally, Clay assisted in the coordination of the Women’s Equality Day ceremony. She helps mentor female sailors and was instrumental in arranging the 15th annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony in Charleston.

Somehow, Clay has used what little leftover time she has available to earn a Bachelor of the Arts in English and a master's — conferred with honors — in homeland security studies.

No matter the pursuit, Clay exemplifies a selfless attitude that makes her worthy of recognition.