Oct. 16, 2020 —
Two Oregon-based petty officers have been recognized for their exceptional heroism and professionalism. Petty Officer 2nd Class Wallace Qual, a boatswain’s mate at Station Yaquina Bay and Petty Officer 1st Class Jesse Dean, a machinery technician at Station Umpqua River were recipients of the 2019 Commander Ray Evans Outstanding Coxswain Trophy Award and the 2019 Fireman First Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineer Award, respectively.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden presented the awards.
“When I found out earlier in the year that I was being submitted, I was pretty taken aback,” said Qual. “I was extremely humbled to have even had been submitted—that made it even more surprising and humbling to be selected as the winner.”
Both winners of the boat forces awards were from stations in Oregon.
“There are a lot of good things happening in this sector, in no small part because of the leadership here,” said Dean. “The fact that both winners are from the Pacific Northwest speaks to the culture. It takes a certain type of individual to survive as a mariner out here. It’s the ruggedness and grit that’s inspiring and what keeps me moving forward to the next thing.”
Qual was selected out of a pool of qualified candidates for the Commander Ray Evans Outstanding Coxswain Trophy Award. The award’s namesake, Signalman First Class Ray Evans, is one of the most celebrated heroes in Coast Guard history.
Only one percent of Coast Guard boatswain’s have the same level and combination of certifications that Qual has. Selected for his technical, professional, leadership, and seamanship abilities, he also played a pivotal role in several search and rescue operations in which he showed the bravery and courage in the face of danger. In one instance, he responded to a private sailing vessel stranded off the coast of Yaquina Bay while battling 14-foot seas and gale force winds to save the lives of five people aboard, maneuvering next to the wildly pitching vessel, ultimately rescuing them from the water.
“It doesn’t fall on the shoulders of just me,” said Qual, ever humble when discussing his accolades. “I’m being constantly pushed up by the people around me. There are tons of boat crew members and engineers right next to me, helping me make the hard decisions.”
This selflessness was echoed by Dean, winner of the Fireman First Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineer Award. “It’s 100 percent a team effort,” said Dean. “I could not have done it without the support of the station.”
The award’s namesake, Fireman 1st Class Paul Clark, was honored with the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving as engineer of a landing boat during an assault on the occupation of French Morocco in 1942. When a hostile aircraft shot at his boat, mortally wounding the bowman and severely injuring the coxswain, Clark quickly assumed control of the craft and immediately withdrew from the beach. He sped to an offshore ship, placed the wounded men aboard and, although his craft was riddled with enemy gunfire, he courageously returned to his station at the beach and completed his boat’s mission.
Dean expressed that the namesake of the award made his nomination even more meaningful. “It was an honor to be nominated and to be seen at that level,” said Dean. “Winning [the award] blew it out of the water.”
Dean is proactive in his role. “He is first to lend a hand and volunteer for any task, serves as a personal and professional mentor to many, and consistently conveys an optimistic, can-do attitude,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer S. E. Slade, officer in charge Station Umpqua River a boatswain’s mate at Station Umpqua River.
As a seasoned machinery technician at a motor lifeboat unit, Dean identified the fact that there is not an existing maintenance procedure card (MPC) for an engine change out. Engineers on the relied on person to person pass down of information, or prior experience. In December 2019, when motor lifeboat 47229 required a new port engine, Dean created a plan to establish a procedure to remove and install the engine, ultimately serving as the model for the upcoming release of the “remove and install” MPC, which will greatly enhance the uniformity and abilities of units across the Coast Guard.
“What means the most is knowing that people took the time to learn about what went into the project,” said Dean. “It was absolutely a team effort.”
Both honorees were extremely grateful to Admiral Schultz and to Master Chief Vanderhaden for making the trip to Oregon to celebrate the accomplishment.