By Submitted by Chief Petty Officer Patrick Davis
As reservists, we all know that, unless deployed, we’re going to drill one weekend a month. The question is: what are you going to be doing on that weekend? Some drills will be full of excitement, some will be full of adventure and some will be filled with doing paperwork. But every now and then, we all need an exercise that’s a little more stimulating and inspirational. Two reservists from Sector Jacksonville found a way to make that happen.
Petty Officer 1st Class Angie Vinson and Petty Officer 2nd Class Robin Rodenbaugh, two yeomen from Sector Jacksonville, were authorized to drill at Station Mayport. With a unit of 30 reservists drilling two weekends a month, the amount of admin for the senior enlisted reserve advisor (SERA) can become a bit demanding.
However, the addition of Vinson and Rodenbaugh to our unit has been very welcome to both reserve and active duty personnel. These two motivated individuals were enthusiastic about being given a chance to share the joy and excitement our unit experiences when getting underway and conducting the Coast Guard’s mission. So when they asked if they could attempt to attain the Boat Crew Member certification, the answer was a resounding, “yes.”
Since both members were prior operations specialists (OS), they were familiar with some of the acronyms and vessel-related jargon. Seeing the progress they were making, while maintaining their administrative duties, we saw the need to facilitate their training. What more could we do to speed up this process towards certification? The answer was simple: find a way to get them to Reserve Boat Crew Member School. With that in mind, we looked for school openings and ways to get them an additional two weeks of active duty. Both requests were granted
Once at school, the petty officers were eager to meet the challenges before them. “We’ve never had yeomen, Navy or civilians come through this course before,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Dates, the class advisor, “This time we had them all at once.”
As the days of class went on, the students’ knowledge, skills and confidence grew.
“It was quite evident that both members were eager to fulfill roles not typically held by YN’s so that they could contribute to their unit’s mission when deployed,” said Chief Petty Officer Jeremy Gourde, the school’s training chief.
After graduation, they returned to Station Mayport, and we heard the comments ranging from, “That was awesome,” to “We learned so much,” to “That was the best school I’ve been to in the Coast Guard.” That final statement resonated most with me. Two reservists in a rating not traditionally known for being boat crew members, thought that this was the best school they’ve ever been to in the Coast Guard. It speaks volumes about the instructors and the curriculum provided.
As we gear up to complete the PQS for certifying as a boatcrew member for these two yeomen, I think of what opportunities lie ahead for them in their Coast Guard future. They’ll have the opportunity to earn the Boat Forces Insignia—not something that you often see attained by a reserve yeoman! Experience like this gives them an even better background for being a great senior enlisted reserve advisor (SERA) at a small boat station.