ORANGE PARK, Fla. – In a heartwarming surprise event at Ridgeview High School on Wednesday, News4JAX presented Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO) Sha’Reff Rashad with the prestigious title of Hyundai Hometown Hero. The unsuspecting MCPO, renowned for his dedication to his country and community, was further delighted when he was informed that he would be the new owner of a brand-new 2023 Hyundai Tucson.
The News4JAX crew, headed by producer Tom Swider and photographer/producer Marshall Malone, made their entrance mid-school day. Principal Becky Murphy graciously escorted them via a golf cart to the rear of the campus, where MCPO Rashad and his cadets stood at attention. Breaking from the usual routine, Swider, microphone in hand, approached Rashad to deliver the thrilling news. The Master Chief’s initial response was a mix of surprise and laughter, followed by heartfelt gratitude expressed towards News4JAX, the school’s principal, and a nod to the divine.
“Wow! Well, first of all, let me thank God for it, as well as News4JAX for the opportunity and the principal for the chance to serve the kids at Ridgeview High School. It is truly an honor. Again, thank you all for your support,” said MCPO Rashad.
As the exchange unfolded, Lieutenant Commander Robert Peterson, a colleague of Rashad, shared, “Master Chief is wonderful with the children at Ridgeview High School. I don’t know if he mentioned it, but he was a Navy Counselor, which means he counseled sailors. So it’s a perfect job for him to have here after retiring because he’s excellent at counseling the young men and women, the people that we work with.”
Principal Becky Murphy also praised Rashad’s impact on the school community, stating, “He has a great impact on our school community and the community as a whole. He preaches in our local community. Our students look to him for advice just in everyday life and their classes. He’s someone that I go to a lot to just ask questions.”
Rashad’s wife, who nominated him for the Hyundai Hometown Hero award, declined to appear on camera but shared her sentiments in a letter to News4JAX. The letter highlighted Rashad’s 27-year military career, his commitment to community service, and his 19-year tenure as a Naval Science Instructor at Ridgeview High School.
Retired Master Chief Sha’Reff Rashad spent 27 years in the Navy as a loyal and dedicated Sailor. His military journey included graduating from the Senior Enlisted Academy, Community Service in places like South America, serving as Career Information Program Manager for 10,000 sailors and so much more.
After retiring, he had a strong desire to positively influence the lives of some of the most influential in our community, our youth. He has spent the last 19 years as a Naval Science Instructor (NJROTC) at Ridgeview High School. His influence and guidance continue to impact the lives of these young cadets to guide them in positive future endeavors where they can be productive members of our country and their local communities.
Under the guidance of Master Chief Rashad and the NJROTC program at Ridgeview, the unit has been awarded the "Distinctive Unit" award by the Navy seven (7) times. This prestigious award is a result of excelling in areas such as drill team, academic team, PT team, color guard, and community service.
Master Chief Rashad has always ensured that this community benefits from his program. Under his guidance, his unit has logged over 12,000 community service hours during his time with the program which includes Salvation Army bell ringing, SeaMark Ranch volunteer opportunities, numerous Veterans Day and Christmas parades along with participating in Wreaths Across America to honor our military and events where the presence of color guards show pride for the military in Jacksonville and its active duty and veterans.
In addition to his service to the country as a member of the Armed Forces and an influential role model to the cadets at Ridgeview High School, Sha'Reff Rashad is also known as Rev. Sha'Reff Rashad to the congregation where he has served as Pastor of New Mount Moriah AME Church for the last 12 years. His desire to make our community better also includes saving souls and being of service to his congregation.
Sha’Reff Rashad is truly a Hometown Hero who loves his country and the Jacksonville community!Nomination Letter from Sharon Rashad
When asked about the person who nominated him, Rashad revealed he knew it was his wife, whom he’d known for 40 years. When asked if he would be taking her out in his new Hyundai Tuscon first, in good spirits, he humorously stated, “No! I’ll be taking my grandson and keeping the keys at work.”
The joyous event showcased MCPO Rashad’s positive spirit and well-deserved recognition as a Hyundai Hometown Hero for his unwavering dedication to his country and the Jacksonville community.