Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Friday, December 31, 2010

Guardians of 2010: December

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week we honor members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in December 2010.

LT James O’Mara – December 3, 2010

We’ve spent a lot of time during this Compass series talking about teamwork. So, it seems only fitting that we would kick-off December with the story of Lt. James O’Mara and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon.

As Commanding Officer of Farallon, O’Mara has the responsibility to create a positive culture aboard his unit. At no time was that teamwork more evident than during a seven-day period where his crew stopped two drug smuggling ventures and one migrant smuggling attempt.

SN Kristin Reger – December 10, 2010

When you think of a Coastie putting his or her life on the line by jumping into the water to save a life, the first image that pops into your mind is likely a highly trained rescue swimmer. The search and rescue case that resulted in Seaman Kristin Reger being awarded the Coast Guard Medal will forever change that image.

Swimming out to an overturned sailboat Seaman Kristin Reger was not thinking of anything except the man trapped beneath the hull. With a polypropylene line connecting her to the Coast Guard Station Golden Gate 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, her training kicked in as she battled four-foot seas to reach the boat.

BM2 Joseph D’Amico – December 17, 2010

Command of a Coast Guard Cutter is one of the highest honors a seagoing military officer will ever hold. The responsibility of the officer of the deck (OOD) is to stand in for the ship’s captain during your watch. This position is reserved for officers and the most senior of enlisted personnel. That is what makes the qualification of Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph D’Amico as OOD for the 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bear just one more highlight of an outstanding cutterman’s Coast Guard career.

When D’Amico is not standing watch on the bridge, he is one of Bear’s “go to” smallboat coxswains. D’Amico proved to be an instrumental asset during the cutter’s recent patrol where the crew was involved with five separate go-fast pursuits within a two-week period.

Coast Guard Santa and elves – December 24, 2010

The Coast Guard is a unique military service because we live within the very communities where we operate. That makes for lasting relationships and traditions that continue on long after the change of the watch at a Coast Guard unit. One such tradition is the Santa to the Villages program.

The program, now in its 37th year, takes volunteers from the Spouse’s Association of Kodiak and teams them up with [Coast Guard Cutter] Spar and an air crew from Air Station Kodiak to deliver holiday cheer to seven remote villages on Kodiak Island: Ahkiok, Larsen Bay, Karluk, Ouzinkie, Port Lions and Old Harbor.

AST3 Christopher Austin – December 31, 2010

Think your first day on the job was tough? For one of the Coast Guard’s newest rescue swimmers, his first day involved a rescue off the always dangerous coast of Washington state and the realization that you simply cannot save every victim. Petty Officer Christopher Austin was standing his first watch after graduating from “A” school when the call came in that two fishermen were in the water after their boat capsized.

“Everything that was going through my head was all the training that I’ve had in the past two years and especially throughout A-school,” recalls Austin. “As soon as I grabbed him [the fisherman], I put my arms up underneath him, and a wave hit me with so much force my goggles came up off my face. I kept working, kept trying to get this guy’s head above the water.”

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010!

Guardian of the Week – AST3 Christopher Austin

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
With contributions from PA3 Kelly Parker.

The Coast Guard trains its people to be Always Ready and that training is never more important than on your first search and rescue case. On Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Austin’s first duty day as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer there was no time for uncertainty – a vessel had capsized in the Pacific northwest’s icy waters and he was being called upon to save lives.

Austin and an aircrew from Air Station Astoria were airborne when the report came in that a fishing vessel had capsized with two people aboard.

With only two miles of visibility, the aircrew diverted to the opening of Willapa Bay, Wash. and spotted a debris field. The aircraft commander, Lt. Benjamin Schluckebier, turned the helicopter around to follow the debris field. That’s when despite the fact neither fisherman was wearing a life jacket, the aircraft flight mechanic, Petty Officer 2nd Class Andre Altavilla, noticed a person in the water.

“The boater rapidly deteriorated from swimming, to barely keeping his head out of the water, to being under for 10 seconds at a time when getting hit by waves, to face down in the water and not moving,” recalls Schluckebier.

Austin was lowered into the 45-degree water, and although he was on his first case on his first day of duty, the agitated waters showed no mercy as he attempted to reach the now unresponsive fisherman.

“Everything that was going through my head was all the training that I’ve had in the past two years and especially throughout A-school,” recalls Austin. “As soon as I grabbed him, I put my arms up underneath him, and a wave hit me with so much force my goggles came up off my face. I kept working, kept trying to get this guy’s head above the water.”

Austin was pummeled by waves, but with support from Altavilla who was paying out his cable, he was able to shelter the fisherman. After the ready signal was given, Austin and the unconscious fisherman were hoisted into the helicopter.

Once safely inside the cabin, Altavilla and Austin administered CPR and the man began to breathe once again.

Although Austin was the one deployed in the water, he credits the rescue to the teamwork of his aircrew.

“I didn’t see this guy – the flight mechanic found him. I didn’t jump out of the plane – I got hoisted down by the decision of the pilot. I didn’t do CPR by myself – I was gassed after getting hit by all those waves,” said Austin. “My biggest thing is that you’re not the hero, you’re not the one saving people. It’s the guys that you’re with who have your back and you have to have their back just as much to get the job done.”

Despite saving a life his first day on the job, Austin learned a hard lesson; after an extensive six-hour search for the second fisherman, by both air and surface rescue crews, the search was suspended.

“We couldn’t get the other guy and I was kind of beating myself up about that. We did everything we could to get there,” said Austin.

Thinking about the lost fisherman, it was Austin’s family who put things in perspective for the young rescue swimmer.

“When I got off the phone with my dad on Christmas my fiancĂ© said to me, ‘You know that he [the fisherman] gets to be at home with his family for Christmas.’”

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guardians of 2010: November

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week we honor members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in November 2010.

Auxiliary Commodore Nicholas Kerigan – November 5, 2010

We kicked off the month of November by looking back at the two-years Commodore Nicholas Kerigan led the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Kerigan oversaw a complete reorganization of the 31,000-plus volunteer force while supporting major operations including the Haiti earthquake response, Operation Arctic Crossroads, and the Deepwater Horizon Response.

Kerigan, a member of the Auxiliary since 1992, was busy leading from the top, but showed his constant dedication to all Auxiliary members by his wealth of qualifications. Kerigan maintained qualifications as coxswain, air observer, vessel examiner, instructor and a qualification examiner.

Ed Kruska – November 12, 2010

A recently retired Chief Warrant Officer, Ed Kruska spent a good portion of his career promoting our service and the memories of those who have worn the uniform. While serving as the editor of Coast Guard Reservist magazine, Kruska published a story about Coast Guard monuments across the United States urging Coast Guardsmen nationwide to pay their dues to those who served before them. That story was the inspiration for Coast Guard Flags Across America.

“It is an honor and privilege to commemorate the service of Coast Guard veterans that guarded our coasts in peace and defended our Nation in war,” said [Adm. Bob] Papp, adding, “With Flags Across America, Ed Kruska has established in our service a powerful way for us to observe these manners of our profession with dignity and admiration.”

Christine Greiner – November 19, 2010

As we headed into Thanksgiving Week, we found ourselves expressing our gratitude to Mrs. Christine Greiner, Ombudsman for the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii. As ombudsman, Greiner is quite literally the key link between the crew of the 378-foot cutter and the family members left behind when the ship deploys.

“Ombudsmen volunteer their time and talents to create a community for unit family members left behind,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt praising the efforts of all Ombudsmen. “Their hard work and dedication allows members of the Coast Guard to continue to focus on mission execution while being secure in the knowledge that things are running smoothly on the home front.”

LTJG Steven Lewis – November 26, 2010

The international response to the Carnival Splendor, the cruise ship left adrift more than 100 miles off the coast of California by an engine fire, made for great television news and some interesting challenges for Coast Guard responders, including one ensign whose training and ingenuity were put to the test by this unique rescue mission.

Landing a U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopter on a Panamanian-flagged cruise ship presented unique challenges. Adding to the complexities of the operation was the need to communicate with multiple entities including the aircraft commander, supply chief and on scene commander. Lewis used his training and experience to assure the team that it could be done safely – besides, the Lido deck was at least twice the size of the VERTREP area on Morgenthau.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we wrap up our tribute series with the Guardians of the Week for December 2010.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guardians of 2010: October

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week we honor members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in October 2010.

AST1 Salvador Carire – October 1, 2010

Coast Guard rescue swimmers are trained to put themselves in harms way to save others, but the decision to continue to search for a survivor in a hopeless situation putting your own life at risk is what sets them apart from the rest of us. Petty Officer 1st Class Salvadore Carire proved that he was one of the elite as he put himself in harms way to pull a survivor from an overturned life raft in heavy seas and frigid waters nearly 40-miles off the coast of New Jersey.

Carire ripped into the raft that cocooned a barely conscious, hypothermic survivor. With the 280-pound man in tow, Carire signaled the 6559 to lower the rescue basket. Carire stayed in the water, experiencing early stages of hypothermia himself, as the aircrew raised the fisherman safely into the aircraft and returned to hoist him. Once inside the aircraft, Carire used his medical training to treat the survivor and keep him conscious.

The crew of the Amy Julie – October 8, 2010

We continued October with another amazing search and rescue case conducted by members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. There is perhaps no better example of the role that auxiliarists play in support of Coast Guard operations than the rescue performed by the crew of the Amy Julie when a surprise squall struck Buzzards Bay.

The crew of the Amy Julie decided that it was best to start checking on popular fishing and recreational boating areas. The crew’s plan to check the popular areas paid off, when the Amy Julie approached a fishing area and spotted a 17-foot center console boat submerged to the gunnels.

Click here to read more about how the local knowledge of an auxiliary crew saved three lives.

Mr. David Condino – October 15, 2010

The international maritime community has long struggled with balancing the realities of long ocean journeys with the need to keep our oceans free of trash. Over the past several years, David Condino has made a name for himself as a champion of marine environmental protection by helping the International Maritime Organization reform rules for dumping at sea.

A Master Mariner, Condino holds a license of unlimited tonnage and has sailed the world’s oceans thus creating a deep connection to all things maritime. Through his global travels, he has gained a firsthand perspective of how garbage thrown overboard affects the maritime environment.

BM1 John Costabile – October 22, 2010

The Coast Guard’s small size and unique mission set lends itself to the development of leaders across the service. Our next two Guardians of the Week are such men.

Aboard the 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Campbell, Petty Officer 1st Class John Costabile established himself as the kind of leader that inspires the crew from the commanding officer all the way down to the non-rates. He’s also one of the most successful drug interdiction boat drivers in the Coast Guard.

While his shipmates admire him, drug runners are dismayed by his tenacity and deep seated drive for operational excellence. In 2009 Costabile led 10 high-speed, close-quarter pursuits with go-fast boats, often requiring speeds in excess of 40-knots with challenging weather and in unfamiliar and poorly-charted waters.

CDR Matthew Meilstrup – October 29, 2010

Coast Guard officers are expected to be good leaders and rely on the trust and respect of those who they command to accomplish the service’s many missions. As the recipient of the Captain David H. Jarvis Inspirational Leadership Award, Cmdr. Matthew Meilstrup, executive officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis, demonstrated the kind of leadership that inspired an entire crew.

“Cmdr. Meilstrup had tremendous respect for all of us,” said Lt. Heather Bacon-Shone, operations officer on Jarvis. “I think that’s because he first saw us as people, and secondly as shipmates, and only thirdly as cooks, chiefs, junior officers, boatswains’ mates, or firemen.”

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for November 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Guardians of 2010: September

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week we honor members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in September 2010.

LT Wayne Miller – September 2, 2010

Lt. Wayne Miller (USCGR) was just one of thousands of Coast Guard men and women to find themselves deployed to the Gulf of Mexico to protect the coastline in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Miller was on his way to a planning meeting when fate – and his Coast Guard training, found him plunging into a burning car to save another. In true hero style, Miller lauded the victim for his courage.

“He inspired me for the rest of my life because he pushed through that pain, that incredible pain.”

AST2 Lake DownhamSeptember 10, 2010

As a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Lake Downham spends a lot of time in the water saving lives. So, it should come as no surprise he would choose to give of his own time to help children with disabilities build confidence on the water.

“My favorite thing to teach them is surfing,” says Downham. “A lot of the kids are afraid of the water and don’t want to get in, and then by the end of the day they don’t want to leave the water.”

ME2 Nick Antis – September 17, 2010

Teamwork is a critical part of any law enforcement operation. For Petty Officer 2nd Class Nick Antis and his partner, Ryder, teamwork could mean the difference between life and death. As one of the Coast Guard’s explosives detection canine teams, a lot is riding on their ability to work together in defense of our security.

As a deployable asset, Antis and Ryder are capable of operating in a variety of geographic locations and environments with the ability to work ashore or aboard vessels, and deploy from helicopters by vertical delivery. Recently, canine teams from [Marine Safety and Security Team] Los Angeles/Long Beach provided support to the commissioning of the [Coast Guard Cutter] Waesche, the Super Bowl, and the Rose Bowl, among other events.

AMT3 Kelly Dunn – September 24, 2010

Every successful search and rescue case performed by a Coast Guard air station begins well before the command center receives a distress call and launches a helicopter or plane. Were it not for the flight mechanics that keep our aircraft mission ready, many a distress call would go unanswered. The Coast Guard has found a one-of-a-kind aviation maintenance technician in Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Dunn.

One of the Coast Guard’s newest AMTs is Petty Officer Third Class Kelly Dunn. Graduates from AMT “A” school have proven their understanding of complex aviation systems. Dunn, however, demonstrated her mastery on the subject further, as she graduated as class leader, honor graduate and with the academic achievement award.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for October 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Guardians of 2010: August

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in August 2010.

LTjg Amanda Bazinet – August 9, 2010

Anyone who has spent time at sea knows that there are those who thrive above decks and those with a unique ability to keep the engines running. It is a rare occurrence for a military officer to succeed in both worlds given the demands of life afloat, but that is exactly what Lt. j.g. Bazinet did aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba.

One of the steepest learning curves for a junior officer on a cutter is watch qualification, usually as an engineer or deck watch. The former entails learning how to operate all of the mechanical components on board the ship, the latter places the officer in charge of the operation of the entire ship. Most officers qualify in one or the other. Bazinet did both.

“It’s not unheard of,” said Cdr. Edward Westfall, Escanaba commanding officer, “but it’s not very common either.”

The crew of CG 6565 – August 13, 2010

The designation “Guardian of the Week” is usually reserved for an individual, but sometimes a crew – in this case an aircrew, demonstrate such exceptional teamwork that we honor them all. The crew of Coast Guard rescue helicopter 6565 turned what could have been a fatal case into your typical Coast Guard rescue.

Many (search and rescue) responders describe trying to find a person in the water at altitude like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And the conditions that day made the case even tougher – no position certainty and no information on what, or who was in the water if anything or anyone. All the crew knew was they needed to go check it out.

The persistence, dedication and excellent local area knowledge of the aircrew paid off. In only the first pass, flying at 200 feet or about 20 stories up, Lt. (Jeff) Jacobs inexplicably, spotted a woman in the water.

SKC Dave Curran – August 20, 2010

A shared love of fly fishing led Chief Petty Officer Curran to honor the loss of his brother Carl, an Army National Guardsman killed by an IED in Iraq, by sharing the sport that meant so much to both of them with disabled veterans returning from war.

“My time spent sharing my hobby is like giving the trip I had promised to my brother,” said Curran.

Curran worked tirelessly with Project Healing Waters to plan a weeklong fly-fishing excursion on the American River near Kodiak for five disabled military members and veterans.

Master Chief Steven Hearn – August 27, 2010

Over the past 220 years, the Coast Guard has evolved to face new threats to our national security and advanced the way the world protects people at sea. Yet, in all that time, one thing hasn’t changed – Coast Guardsmen have always battled the sea to save lives and prove their mettle. With more than 22 years spent serving at sea, Master Chief Hearn is considered the Coast Guard’s Silver Ancient Mariner, a designation held only by the “saltiest” of those to go to sea as a member of our service.

The Gold and Silver Ancient Mariner awards, established in 1978, honor the officer and enlisted member who personifies the dedication and professionalism associated with long service at sea and has the distinction of being called a “Cutterman” longer than any other active duty member.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for September 2010.

Guardians of 2010: July

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in July 2010.

Jim Smith – July 2, 2010

Civilians play a vital role in Coast Guard operations. As the maintenance mechanic leader for Air Station Atlantic City, Jim Smith has proven just how valuable the civilian workforce can be to mission excellence.

“The most stand-out element of Jim is he’s really a jack of all trades,” said Capt. Paul Ratte, commanding officer of the air station. “He’s integrated at all levels. Countless times he’s asked the right questions and has averted potential disasters.”

LT David Ratner – July 9, 2010

Over the past several years, piracy on the high seas has become a major threat to the international maritime community. The piracy crisis in places like the Gulf of Aden showcased the unique capabilities of the Coast Guard as both a military and law enforcement organization. Lt. Ratner leads one of the Coast Guard teams responding to this emerging global threat.

Ratner led his team on 11 high-risk boardings in the Gulf of Aiden and he and his team directly stopped at least three pirate attacks on unarmed merchants protecting billions of dollars in cargo aboard the many ships that transit the area said Lt. Cdr. Michael Fredie, executive officer of Tactical Law Enforcement Team South.

MK3 Carlos Camacho – July 16, 2010

As the smallest of our nation’s military services, the Coast Guard asks a great deal of its junior members and, in return, offers those members the opportunity to take a leadership role early in their careers. Machinery Technician 3rd Class Carlos Camacho took full advantage of the trust put in him as the junior member of the Station Key West machine shop.

“He is one of the most knowledgeable (Response Boat Medium) engineers in the Coast Guard,” said Chief Warrant Officer Todd Stoughton, commander of Station Key West. “He read the manual cover to cover and found dozens of mistakes and made many recommendations that ended up becoming part of the actual manual.”

LCDR Elizabeth Booker – July 23, 2010

The Coast Guard prides itself on being a service that offers equal opportunities in all career fields for our service men and women. But, the Coast Guard also recognizes that women who choose our profession as a career will face unique decisions and challenges in life. When senior leadership makes decisions on these important issues, it is no surprise that they often turn to Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Booker for advice.

(Lt. Cdr. Booker) has spent a lot of time bringing light to women’s issues by organizing conference participation, coordinating surveys to identify areas for improvement and spending countless hours mentoring and counseling members both on and off duty. But her greatest contribution is likely a book she authored unofficially known as “The Mom Book.”

ME2 Anthony Emanuele – July 30, 2010

The Coast Guard’s role in ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq is often overlooked. As an expert in maritime law enforcement, Petty Officer 2nd Class Emanuele was called upon when our partners in Iraq wanted to develop their own maritime security methods.

From November 2008 to March 2009 Emanuele was temporarily assigned to Law Enforcement Detachment 107 and the Naval Transition Team Umm Qasr, Iraq. There he trained 12 platoons of Iraqi Marines on how to conduct law enforcement boardings and was an integral part of developing curriculum for this important program.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for August 2010.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Guardians of 2010: June

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in June 2010.

MST1 Carrie Grady – June 5, 2010

We kicked off June with the 2009 Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year, a tremendous honor considering her competition was the 34,000 active duty members of the world’s greatest lifesaving service.

“Throughout the year she demonstrated seemingly superhuman qualities,” Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Hanson, executive officer of the Pacific Strike Team where Grady was transferred in July 2009. “She took on and managed an impressive amount of responsibility, and the sheer quantity and quality of her work was awe inspiring.”

YN1 Stephenie Winslow – June 11, 2010

Teamwork is critical to success aboard a Coast Guard cutter and no one is more of a team player than Petty Officer 1st Class Stephenie Winslow.

“Winslow’s work has been second to none,” said Cmdr. James Spotts, commander of Tahoma. “Her administration of personnel matters is proactive and precise.” This, however, pales in comparison to the list of positions aboard the Tahoma she has volunteered for: assistant to the maritime law enforcement officer, primary maritime law enforcement boarding officer, special response team gunner, boat crew member, in-port officer of the deck, morale committee president, human relations council secretary, unit health promotion coordinator, health and wellness committee member and medical team member.

Congressman Bill Delahunt – June 18, 2010

A Congressman may seem like a curious choice for Guardian of the Week until you hear Bill Delahunt’s story.

Rep. Bill Delahunt, Mass., served as a Radarman in the Coast Guard Reserves from 1963 to 1971. Since being elected to Congress in 1997 he has been a strong patron of the service and its members. It was his initiative that led to the formation of the bipartisan Coast Guard Caucus, and his advocacy and love for the service is well known among the Coast Guard leadership.

MST3 Hector ConcepcionJune 25, 2010

Petty Officer 3rd Class Concepcion taught us the true meaning of Always Ready; whether at your job as a pollution inspector, as a leader of your district’s human relations committee, on the field as a youth baseball coach, or saving a life when you witness a car accident.

“I acted out of instinct,” said Concepcion. “Moments like that are when you realize why the Coast Guard stresses Semper Paratus, so you are ready to react in the correct and safest manner.”

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for July 2010.

Guardians of 2010: May

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in May 2010.

BM1 Tim Burns – May 7, 2010

What does it take to be the best boat driver in the Coast Guard? For starters, how about leading your boat crew through a storm on four successful search and rescue cases in one night?!?

“That day was crazy,” said Burns. “It was the day before the station’s change of command and we had spent all day putting up a large tent and then taking it down when the weather started blowing in. “The weather was getting worse. I was already tired and I told one of the other guys I had a feeling something was going to happen that night.” He should’ve knocked on wood.

AUX James McReynolds – May 14, 2010

In many boating communities, a Coast Guard Auxiliarist might be the only contact you ever have with the service. Along a heavy traffic waterway like the Mississippi River an Auxiliary Flotilla pays major dividends in the areas of boating safety and mission readiness. When Auxiliarist McReynolds learned that his flotilla was getting ready to shut down due to a lack of participation, he sprung into action.

“I talked to everybody who would listen about joining,” said McReynolds. ”We’ve recruited some outstanding individuals.” With 37 members now, the flotilla is the most active in the region.

CDR Daniel Travers – May 21, 2010

Commanding officers are responsible for both the operational readiness of their units and the professional and moral development of those under their command. For the CO of Air Station Detroit, that means encouraging his people to be a positive part of the communities where they serve.

“I have highly encouraged those under my command and past duty stations to get heavily involved as a volunteer in their communities. I had two officers who took the initiative to coordinate with the local Habitat for Humanity office to build a home using an all volunteer Air Station Detroit workforce. The 3,000+ hours of volunteer time that we put into the project was well worth it. It was an incredible experience for all of us to complete this project and to realize that we did something that aided a family to get off the street and into their own home. It is definitely one of the highlights of my tour at Air Station Detroit.”

Admiral Thad Allen – May 25, 2010

As the month of May drew to a close, the Coast Guard welcomed Admiral Bob Papp as the 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard and bid fair winds and following seas to Admiral Thad Allen, the 23rd Commandant. Compass took that opportunity to look back at the career of one of the most influential leaders in the history of our service.

“I have spent my entire life in the United States Coast Guard. I was born while my enlisted father, a Seaman on the deck force, was underway on a Coast Guard cutter. In 1967, I traded my dependent’s ID card for an active duty card when I entered the United States Coast Guard Academy. I have seen life from the junior enlisted ranks as a dependent, and I have been lucky enough to advance through the organization as an active duty officer.” – Vice Admiral Thad Allen during his 2006 confirmation hearing to become the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for June 2010.

Guardians of 2010: April

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in April 2010.

BM2 Billy Poertner – April 2, 2010

It literally took months for all of the heroic stories of Coast Guard men and women responding to the massive response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January to come to light. One such story involved the evolution of a man who, over six years that must have seemed like a lifetime, was transformed into a leader.

“Poertner was a staunch advocate of the Haitian people and consistently reminded his shipmates of their needs and ways we could help them through this devastating event,” said Cmdr. Keith Johnson, commanding officer of Port Security Unit 307, where Poertner serves.

Click here to read the story of a Marine-turned-Coast Guardsman and the young orphans that changed his life.

Lt. David Shook – April 9, 2010

As Hurricane Neki bore down on the remote Pacific island of Tern, Lt. David Shook and the crew of his C-130 rescue plane were the only hope for a group of Fish and Wildlife Service scientists manning a research station.

“The storm was moving in and they couldn’t get in their with their smaller planes,” said Lt. David Shook, a C-130 pilot from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii. “The Coast Guard was their last option.”

Lieutenant Chad Kauffman – April 16, 2010

Lt. Kauffman is quickly establishing himself as a leader among his fellow military attorneys for his work on sexual assault cases where he works to create a culture of officers and enlisted personnel who not only understand that sexual assault is a crime but who will not tolerate anything short of respect for their fellow shipmates.

“Lt. Kauffman embodies what we would like to see in all our JAGs – a sensitivity to the extremely controversial issue of sexual assault, and an understanding of the unique challenges presented by sexual assault cases in the legal arena,” said Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program manager Shawn Marie Wren.

LTjg La’Shanda Holmes – April 23, 2010

With the odds stacked against her at an early age, this Coastie battled adversity to become a Coast Guard officer. As the first African American female helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard, Lt. j.g. Holmes made history as she prepared for a career saving lives.

“I was used to people telling me what I couldn’t do. We moved around a lot, and I think it fueled my ambition to live better and work harder. It just gave me more motivation to succeed.” – Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes.

Seaman Derek Luman – April 30, 2010

The War on Drugs is fought on multiple fronts. Seaman Luman has quickly made a name for himself fighting narco-terrorism at sea and drug abuse in the community.

Seaman Luman joined the KNIGHT ISLAND in August 2008 and quickly became a qualified Boarding Team Member and has conducted more than 25 high visibility boardings including four which were classified as major drug disruptions at sea. In addition to spending a rigorous 2000 hours at sea and away from home this past year, SeamanLuman selflessly volunteered on more than 40 different occasions during his sparse off-duty time at Key West’s Poinciana Elementary School. Through creative “question and answer” seminars highlighting the Coast Guard’s counter-drug mission, he ingeniously linked narco-interdiction efforts at sea to the end result of keeping drugs out of schools and out of children’s hands.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for May 2010.

Guardians of 2010: March

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in March 2010.

BM2s Summers, Ray and SN Edwards – March 5, 2010

Small boat crews are trained to make rescues from the confines of their rescue craft, but the daring and quick thinking of one crew from Station Wilmetter Harbor led to a dramatic ice rescue along the banks of Lake Michigan.

Edwards’ keen awareness and Summers and Ray’s brave decision to attempt a rescue from the seawall saved the victim’s life. By being prepared for the unexpected these three didn’t just uphold the Coast Guard’s core values, they surpassed them.

Click here to read more on this amazing display of teammwork.

SK1 Brooke Hall – March 12, 2010

Go behind the scenes to find out what it takes to keep Air Station Kodiak “Always Ready” as we follow Storekeeper 1st Class Brooke Hall, winner of the Coast Guard’s 2009 Chief Financial Officer Excellence Award.

So much of the Coast Guard revolves around protecting people and saving lives … But many of those rescues are only possible because of the support staff who labor behind the scenes to make sure that when the SAR alarm goes off the boats, cutters, helicopters and airplanes are ready for the mission.

CWO Randy Litka – March 19, 2010

Everytime a Coast Guardsman puts on the uniform, he knows he may be called upon to save a life. But, Chief Warrant Officer Randy Litka demonstrated that being a Guardian is more than wearing blue when he saved a life while traveling off-duty through Philadelphia Airport.

“When you’re on a ship they train,” Litka said, describing drills where people would drop just as the victim in the airport did. Because of this, he was ready to perform CPR and use the defibrillator even though this was the first time he had ever treated a real victim.

St. Baldrick’s team from MSST Alameda – March 26, 2010

Five Coast Guardsmen gave of their time – and their hair, to support childhood cancer research back in March, earning them a spot as Guardians of the Week.

“Just being able to do something for these kids was great,” said Martin. “Seeing the community rally around them and see how much people care was cool. You could see how much it meant to them, but you know it meant a lot to us to.”

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for April 2010.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

VCNO Addresses Future Commanding Officers at Command Leadership School

By Susan Lawson, Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) Public Affairs Officer

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) spoke with students in the Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) course at the Command Leadership School (CLS) in Newport, R.I., Dec. 15.

The visit was Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert's second to the school during his tenure as VCNO.

CLS has engaged senior Navy leaders in preparing prospective COs by ensuring either a three- or four- star admiral serves as a subject matter expert at every course convening.

Additionally, the chief of naval personnel and the naval inspector general visit the classes to discuss command and leadership issues.

"The Command Leadership School prepares the Navy's finest officers and senior enlisted for significant leadership posts afloat and ashore," said Greenert. "By honing proven leadership skills, and equipping individuals with the tools needed to successfully meet and overcome a wide spectrum of command challenges, CLS serves a critical role in training our leaders."

While at CLS, Greenert discussed the traits he believes are characteristic of a strong leader, as well as the most compelling responsibilities commanding officers accept when they assume command.

He placed an emphasis on topics such as command climate, modeling leadership behavior, creating an environment of accountability, learning the practice of productive prioritization, and the importance of establishing training standards and enforcing them throughout the command.

"The VCNO's presence here at our PCO course makes a statement to our students," said Capt. William Nault CLS director. "It really stresses the magnitude of responsibilities they are preparing to assume. Yet the admiral's message was a positive one, and opened our students' eyes to the infinite opportunities they have to develop, influence and lead their people. The PCO course is intended to foster critical thinking to help our students prepare for the complicated, and often ambiguous environments they will face once they assume command."

Responsibility, authority, accountability, ethics, integrity, adherence to Navy core values, and exemplary conduct are among the fundamental leadership principles that comprise lessons taught during the two-week PCO course at CLS.

"CLS instructors do not convey these principles through hollow words; they impart them by leading PCO students through in-depth evaluations of case studies based on actual reports and investigations," said Nault. "We, as Navy leaders, view it as our responsibility to guide prospective commanding officers into their future positions with clear insight into the challenges COs regularly encounter."

The mission of CLS is to prepare the leadership triad and command support team for their unique roles. The school achieves this by incorporating real-life lessons learned from fleet commanders into its curriculum.

Leadership principles are discussed individually throughout the PCO course, and are also folded into course topics, including Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Diversity, Operational Stress Control, and Career Development Boards.

Additional tools include a comprehensive professional performance review that incorporates supervisory, peer, and subordinate feedback to help form a holistic view of an individual's strengths and weaknesses. CLS also employs self-awareness training tools into their courses, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

With a focus on developing a strong command triad (CO, XO and CMC), PCO students are also teamed up with students in CLS' Prospective Executive Officer (PXO) and Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat (CMC/COB) courses for a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional analysis of the topics and case studies.

"Our goal is to replicate the command triad, and emphasize the importance of unit cohesion," Nault said. "We highlight the importance of leadership's adherence to Navy standards, which is vital in the development of a positive and productive command climate. Mutual trust along with open and honest communication within the triad is a fundamental concept conveyed to the students."

Through case studies, role-playing and problem-solving activities, PCO students experience real-life leadership challenges and learn to understand and carry out their responsibilities as a commanding officer based on various vantage points.

"The responsibility of commanding officers for their units and Sailors is absolute," said Capt. Chuck Hollingsworth, Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) commanding officer. "Their ability to accomplish the mission while taking care of their people is taken very seriously throughout every enterprise in the Navy.

"On average, the number of COs detached for cause in a single year is roughly one percent, and though these are representative of only a small segment of commanding officers within the Navy, we still consider any percentage unacceptable. Navy expectations for standards of conduct have always been, and will continue to remain, extremely high," said Hollingsworth.

CPPD is the Navy Education Training Command (NETC) learning center responsible for the development of leadership training for all enlisted (E-1 through E-9) and officers (O-1 through O-6), including the command leadership courses at CLS.

CLS and CPPD work closely together to develop and update the curriculum and content for the courses. According to Hollingsworth, the commands work collaboratively to design their content to best suit a scenario-based format.

A large part of the CLS learning experience is geared toward interchange between students and staff to better recognize and tackle the problems that members of command leadership often face.

CLS instructors are all successful post-command COs and CMCs who bring a wide-range of experiences into the classrooms. This type of classroom composition allows COs, XOs, and CMCs to work through potential issues to better understand the future challenges they will face, both as leaders and as individuals.

"There are a myriad of triumphs and challenges inherent in the role of commanding officer; it is a role replete with complex responsibilities," said Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, commander, Naval Education and Training Command. "The PCO course is an important introduction to full-fledged leadership responsibilities for prospective commanding officers."

For more information about the Command Leadership School (CLS), visit: https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/cls/.

For more information about the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD), visit: https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/.

Guardians of 2010: February

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their leadership, devotion to duty and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in February 2010.

AST1 Drew Dazzo – February 5, 2010

Jumping out of a helicopter, 150 miles offshore, during a tropical storm is all in a day’s work for Coast Guard rescue swimmer Drew Dazzo. Dazzo was awarded Canada’s Star of Courage medal for rescuing an international crew after their sailboat capsized in the turbulent waves and high winds of sub-tropical storm Andrea.

“It was like a washing machine there,” said Dazzo about the swim over to the life raft. “I asked who was hurt most, and they all pointed to a guy huddled in the middle, whose ribs we later found out were broken,” Dazzo recalled. “I got him out first, and then the rest.”

LCDR Joe Rodriguez – February 12, 2010

Lt. Cmdr. Joe Rodriguez holds the distinction of being one of the toughest Coasties in the history of our service. In addition to being on of the Coast Guard’s first rescue swimmers, Rodriguez was the only Coast Guardsman to ever command a Marine Corps unit. Joe lost his battle with cancer back in April, but his example of duty and honor lives on as the namesake of the Deployable Operations Group’s Tactical Operator of the Year award.

Lt. Cmdr. Rodriguez’ “quiet warrior” personality became an invaluable commodity in the post-September 11, 2001 Coast Guard. His skills were quickly tapped to develop, commission and command the east coast’s first maritime anti-terrorism unit, MSST 91102.

LT Jacob Katz – February 19, 2010

On the 69th anniversary of the Coast Guard Reserve Forces, it seemed appropriate to recognize Lt. Katz (USCGR) as Guardian of the Week. As the senior reserve officer for Sector Guam, Katz is responsible for ensuring his reservists are always ready to support their active duty shipmates and keep critical Coast Guard operations running.

Beyond his responsibilities as the SRO, Lt. Katz has willingly accepted additional assignments to fill mission critical roles and maintain readiness. As a qualified marine casualty investigator and inspector, Lt. Katz volunteered as the acting supervisor for Marine Safety Detachment Saipan, filling a gap between the departing and reporting supervisors. He also served as the sector’s senior investigating officer so the member could attend critical training.

LTs Hannah Bealon and Randall Black – February 26, 2010

In celebration of the diversity of our workforce, two young Lieutenants were recognized as the Coast Guard’s selectees for the 2010 Department of Defense African American History Month Recognition Award. Lts. Bealon and Black were recognized both for their contributions to the service and their work in the communities where they live.

Bealon was recognized for having worked closely with the Deployable Operations Group to assist forward deployed reservists, providing valuable insights to ease the burdens on those deployed enabling them to focus on the mission.

Black, a pilot at Air Station Sacramento, Calif., was recognized for helping save the live of a downed civilian pilot in Half Moon Bay and also for his contributions to the station as chair of its diversity council and as its civil rights officer.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for March 2010.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dr. Mallory O’Brien to Receive FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award

On Friday, December 17, 2010, Nancy McNamara, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Milwaukee Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced her selection of Dr. Mallory O’Brien, director of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, as the 2010 recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA). Dr. O’Brien will join other community leaders from around the United States in a special ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 25, 2011.

The DCLA is presented annually to an individual or organization that has furthered the efforts of law enforcement. Dr. O’Brien will join other honorees nominated by SACs from FBI field offices across the nation.

Since 2005, Dr. O’Brien has led the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission. She is a trained epidemiologist and has worked in the field of violent injury prevention for the past 15 years.

In 1994, she began her work developing, implementing, and evaluating the Firearm Injury Reporting System, a regional tracking system for firearm deaths, at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

She later went on to continue her work and expand it to the national level as the Associate Director of the National Violent Injury Statistics System at Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center.

Dr. O’Brien has served as a consultant to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System. She is currently a member of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Taskforce for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Advisory Committee of the Safe Streets Initiative and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Crime Victim Council.

Dr. O’Brien is currently a researcher with the Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy at Duke University. Dr. O’Brien currently resides in Milwaukee with her husband and two children.

The DCLA, presented on behalf of the Director of the FBI, was formally created in 1990 as a way to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guardians of 2010: January

Monday, December 20, 2010
Written by: Christopher Lagan

Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their devotion to duty, leadership, and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in January 2010.

Loranimals – January 8, 2010

We kick off the Guardians of 2010 with a salute to the men and women who served at Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (Loran) sites during the 52 years the system was operational.

Some say the nickname Loranimal is given only to the Electronic Technicians (ET) who spent the majority of their Coast Guard careers bouncing from one Loran station to another. … It is a name reserved for a distinct and rather small group of individuals from across all ranks and ratings including Machinery Technicians, Storekeepers and even Food Service Specialists.

BM2 Benjamin Foster – January 15, 2010

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Benjamin Foster’s name may not be the first to come to mind when you recall the January 15, 2009 crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on New York’s Hudson River. The story made Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger a household name and the subject of books and films. But, were it not for the initiative that placed Foster’s small boat directly beside the downed aircraft, passengers could have been lost as the aircraft sank in the frigid water.

“I really think that anybody would have done the same thing that I did, but I think the whole thing is bigger than just an award. I think that the most important thing was that we saved everybody that day and that means more than anything to me.” – Foster.

Coast Guard H1N1 Flu Vaccination Strike Teams – January 22, 2010

For two months, three Coast Guard Office of Health Services strike teams traveled to some of the most remote Department of Homeland Security duty stations in the United States to deliver the H1N1 flu vaccine ahead of the 2010 flu season.

Consisting of a Medical Officer and two Health Services Technicians (HS), collectively the teams drove in excess of 4,000 miles to inoculate Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Food and Drug Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection personnel.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for February 2010.

Face of Defense: Soldier Leads Charge for Charity

By Army Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Winstead
U.S. Army Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Dec. 20, 2010 – Army Pfc. Jasmine Irving made her way through the snow-packed streets of downtown Anchorage with a bounty of donated items to benefit area homeless families.

Irving, joined by two of her fellow soldiers and one of their children, was on her way Dec. 17 to unload the donations she had collected over the past few weeks.

“I received approval to do this from the installation and my chain of command, but I did this pretty much on my own,” said Irving, a supply clerk with 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. “I did have help here and there. My friends and coworkers helped out a lot.”

She set up two collection points on post for donations and raised awareness for the project through flyers she designed and word of mouth.

Originally, Irving’s project was intended to benefit a shelter here that’s part of Catholic Social Services. However, that facility wouldn’t have been able to make full use of the wide variety of items Irving helped collect. Instead, Irving decided to donate to Catholic Social Services as a whole so the items could be sorted and distributed to where they would be most useful.

Ellen Lawlor Krsnak, director of community relations and advocacy for CSS, said she was very pleased to receive the donations. “It warms the heart to see people that take so much from their own time to help others,” Krsnak said. “It reminds you that there are good people out there.”

CSS will deliver items such as toys and books to places that cater to families and children, and the clothes and food will be given to shelters and the CSS food pantry.

“We will do our very best to make sure that all of the pieces of the donation go to where they will do the very most good,” Krsnak said.