Again I find myself compelled to thank each of you for your selfless service, dedication
and commitment. Each of you contributes to making our Coast Guard strong. You who
wear the cloth of our great Nation make sacrifices every day: sacrifices that are
appreciated and for which our Nation owes each of you its gratitude. Please hold your heads
high knowing that you have taken a step forward when it may have been easier to let someone
else answer the call. I can tell you your efforts do not go unnoticed by our Operational
Commanders who consider each of you as an integral part of the workforce.
For me, 2016 flew by. And, while it was a hectic twelve months, it was an honor to meet
with so many of you during my visits to the field. There are few things more important than
shaking hands, thanking you for your service, and finding out what barriers exist that prevent
you from being successful. To that end, I appreciate all of the honest and open feedback. There
are two old adages, “you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken” and “if it’s not broken, don’t
fix it.” I tend to blend these truisms in the performance of my duties. Without your help and
honest, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations it’s often hard to determine where to best
focus energy and effort.
MCPO-CG Steve Cantrell and I recently visited reservists in Boston. A young Petty Officer in
the back of the room asked a very thought provoking question. She asked, “What keeps you
going when you get discouraged?” It seems like a simple straight forward question, although
I’ve chewed on it for the past two weeks. I’m not sure exactly how I answered the petty officer,
but I absolutely know why I soldier on when times get tough. It is the debt I owe to those who
have come before and for those who will follow. Perhaps a loftier reason, such as a passion to
serve or duty to country would sound better, but in the end what drives me are the men and
women who made the choice to raise their right hand and serve: men and women like that
young petty officer who felt empowered and confident enough to ask senior enlisted members
questions that cause them to evaluate themselves. What a great time to serve in the
Congratulations to the recently announced Reserve Gold and Silver Badge Command
Master Chiefs. The candidate pool continues to grow in numbers and quality. It is humbling to
see the education and experience levels of those seeking to serve as Gold and Silver Badges.
Thanks to all for stepping up.
Over the past several months it’s been an honor to reconnect with many of my DESERT
STORM PSU-301 buddies. Although it has been 26 years since we’ve served together, it is as
though we last saw each other yesterday. At an all-hands event at Sector LA/LB, I saw a name
tag I recognized. I just had to ask if the member was related to George Hofstetter. He responded
that George was his dad. Later in the day ME1 Hofstetter connected me with his father via
phone. I’m still smiling about the conversation with George; he is a true patriot and inspired
all those who served with him. On a sad note, we are witnessing the crossing of the bar of
some of our shipmates who served proudly in DESERT STORM. John Marse crossed over in
2016; you would be hard pressed to find a finer American or a better friend. Please take a
moment to reach out to those people who have had positive impacts on your life and career.
They are special and deserve to know they left meaningful footprints behind.
We are a nation in the midst of what is perhaps the most divisive presidential transition of
our lifetime. Please don’t fall into a “them and us” mentality; we are all Americans first. As
members of one of our Nation’s armed forces, we are leaders. Our families, neighbors, and
co-workers will look to us for stability and guidance. Strive to be part of the solution. Our
Service has a proud history of responding to those in distress and finding ways to bridge
divides; these two hallmarks are especially needed in today’s world.
Again, I thank each of you for your service and keep up the great work!
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