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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 17, 2021

Blacks in Government surprises Air Station Houston’s commanding officer Meritorious Service Award  

By MyCG Staff

In a surprise ceremony at the National Defense University, Capt. Marcus Canady was presented with the Blacks in Government (BIG) Military Meritorious Service Award Nov. 8, 2021. Canady was preparing to graduate from the National War College program when the award was presented by National President of BIG, Shirley Jones and Cmdr. Rob Tucker, who was Canady’s executive officer at Air Station Houston and nominating official for this recognition. Canady was later officially recognized at the Blacks in Government Military Meritorious Service Award Virtual Ceremony Nov. 10, 2021. 

The BIG Meritorious Service Award honors military members and Department of Defense civilian employees, men and women, who have supported the DoD mission, overseas contingency operations, or whose attributes best epitomized the qualities and core values of their respective military service or other Department of Defense component.  

As the commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Houston, Canady is responsible for the leadership, safety, and security of three MH-65E helicopters and 80 personnel. During the award period of April 2020 – April 2021, Canady is noted for his contributions towards recruiting, mentoring, and advancing the service’s diversity and inclusion efforts. On receiving the award, Canady thanked his shipmates at Air Station Houston for nominating him. 

“I was truly touched to learn that my crew at Air Station Houston thought enough of my efforts and the impact it had to go through the effort of nominating me,” he stated. “I never think about being recognized for the work that I do in this area. I am simply doing what I feel is the right thing to do in order to make the Coast Guard the best organization it can possibly be.” 

Canady recently worked with a team of senior officers to develop the Coast Guard’s National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) list of strategic priorities for diversity and inclusion. This list of priorities dealt with accountability measures, strategic messaging, organizational training, and recruiting practices, and became a model for other service branch affinity groups to follow when developing their own strategic priorities.   

His actions have significantly increased the opportunity for participation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in federal programs. Canady played a major role in the drafting and approval of organizational memorandums of understanding with Texas Southern University and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals with perspective student and officer candidates.  

Canady has taken an energetic role in the mentorship of others. He is an active member of two mentoring networks: the Academy Minority Outreach Team and the Coast Guard Mentoring Program.  

Canady has eagerly sought to advance the service’s diversity and inclusion initiatives by sharing his experiences and enthusiastically educating others. He served as a guest speaker for numerous Leadership Diversity Advisory Council (LDAC) events and leadership panels throughout the organization for members of all ranks.  

The sum of his contributions have increased the Coast Guard’s presence in the civilian community and drastically improved recruiting efforts in diverse communities.   

Canady’s goal is for those joining the Coast Guard to realize their full potential. “I want those that are entering the Service today to come up through the ranks in a more inclusive environment and reach higher heights than I can imagine,” he said. “I want them to feel valued and cared for simply because they are part of the Coast Guard family.” 

Civil Rights awards like the BIG Military Meritorious Service Award helps to maximize the Coast Guard’s overall mission effectiveness through recognition of members’ accomplishments and contributions to Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity in minority communities and Partnership in Education (PIE) programs. For more information about the service’s Civil Rights awards programs and for nominating information, please contact Juan Torres.   

More about Canady’s Coast Guard career and education  

Canady served as Air Station Houston’s commanding officer since 2019. He attended the United States Coast Academy majoring in Operations Research and played football, basketball, and track. He also served as the Academy’s Genesis Club president during his senior year.  

After graduating and earning his commission in May 2000, Canady was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Legare as a deck watch officer. He was also assigned as the assistant navigator and earned boarding officer and landing signals officer qualifications. His first aviation assignment was Air Station Miami, Florida where he became an aircraft commander in the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.  During his time in Miami, he assisted in the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, saving over 20 lives. In June of 2008, Canady transferred to Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) Jacksonville where he became a mission commander and deployed for counter-drug missions in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Over a three-year span, he played a role in the successful interdiction of over 10,000 pounds of illegal narcotics.  

 In May of 2011, Canady began post-graduate studies at Syracuse University where he earned a Masters in Business Administration and an Executive Masters in Public Administration. Upon graduation he was assigned to the Office of Financial Analysis (CG-832) at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In May of 2014, he was assigned as the military aide to then commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft.  In June 2016, Canady served as the air operations officer in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was responsible for all aviation response for one of the most diverse sectors in the Coast Guard to include the U.S.-Mexico border  

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