My Coast Guard
Commentary | May 2, 2022

2021 CDR John P. Dailey Award recipients announced

By Nicole Bertrand, MyCG writer

A pandemic, time zone differences, funding issues, conflicting priorities, and other challenges have not been able to stop the two recipients of the 2021 CDR John P. Dailey Award from carrying out their duties and earning the commendation of their supervisors.  

Chief Petty Officer Geoffrey Potter of the Fifth District C5ISC is the 2021 CDR John P. Dailey Award recipient, and Ervin B. “EB” Lawson, the 14th District IT manager is the civilian recipient.  

The award was established in honor of CDR John Dailey, whose distinguished Coast Guard career symbolized the highest standards of excellence in leadership, professionalism, and mentorship. An award ceremony is scheduled for May 11 at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

Potter is directly responsible for the entire Coast Guard’s cryptographic equipment inventory, with nearly 10,000 items. His efforts and relationship building were essential to on-time and accurate delivery of all equipment required for units to achieve full mission capability. He described his office as “the gatekeepers” of crypto equipment for the service—the office that “puts the ‘secure’ in secure communications.”   

Lawson spent thousands of hours this past year overhauling, troubleshooting, and expanding system capabilities, including the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIX). He also played a key role in planning multi-million-dollar renovation projects involving the D14 Command Center, the D14 Executive Conference Room (ECR), and Sector Guam, identifying unique and vital C5I intricacies required for each project. He worked closely with all C5I stakeholders ensuring plans were implemented and executed according to Coast Guard standards, despite being based out of Hawaii and dealing with time zone differences. 

MyCG had a chance to catch up with both Potter and Lawson and learn a little bit more about them. 

Interview with Chief Petty Officer Potter 

MyCG: What is an average day like for you? 

Potter: An average day for me varies quite a bit, but I could be working with Coast Guard Headquarters offices on new acquisitions (helping them get equipment for new ships or aircraft, etc.); working with existing Coast Guard platforms helping them acquire new and updated equipment; or fielding questions from the fleet. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with my inbox. Actually it’s always hard to keep up with!  

MyCG: What has been most challenging to you with your position? 

Potter: I think looking at this job/tour, the most challenging aspect has been being fairly new to the job and the unit and trying to navigate the pandemic. I reported in the summer of 2019. I think it usually takes a year to  a year and a half to get a good grasp on an assignment and having to figure that out while largely working remote was challenging. Couple that with recently having a baby and it was definitely an interesting time! 

MyCG: What are you most proud of? 

Potter: I can’t think of one specific thing that I’m most proud of, but I think during this tour it is finding opportunities to help others, especially during the past few years where we have been largely remote and distanced from one another. Another thing that I am proud of, more generally speaking, is learning how to be adaptable. I’ve never done the same job twice in 15 years and have sought out new opportunities each time I’ve transferred. Actually, another thing, specific to this job, is our office has worked hard to establish processes for our service to follow and lay solid groundwork for others to follow. 

MyCG: What does winning this award mean to you? 

Potter: Receiving this award is very humbling and surprising! I honestly had no idea I was even nominated. So, it came as a shock. Cmdr. John Dailey is spoken of very highly, and his contributions are far reaching. I read over the list of previous recipients and honestly don’t see how I fit in. I also am fortunate to have a really supportive chain of command that recognizes our contributions and wants to help us celebrate our successes. My supervisor, Mr. Craig Lane, will literally drop anything to help me with a project or a potential opportunity in my career.  I’m very lucky to have him and he sets a phenomenal example, both technically and as a leader. 

Interview with EB Lawson: 

MyCG: What do you like most about your job? 

Lawson: What I like about information technology is that it constantly changes and evolves so you continue to learn and grow along with the technology. Technology is prevalent throughout the world and society has come to rely heavily upon it. There is an increased awareness in cyber warfare and defense to protect our networks, data, and information. I would encourage the younger generation to seek education in cyberspace and take jobs to help defend our networks against malicious attacks. 

MyCG: What led you to your current position? 

Lawson: I was hired into a new position to be the District 14 webmaster, but over the years the position evolved and I was doing a lot of IT duties not covered in my position description, so it was rewritten to include the duties I assumed. Now I am still the webmaster, the SharePoint Coast Guard portal site owner, developer, and administrator. Other duties include, but are not limited to, video teleconferencing (VTC) facilitator, DoD 365 Teams Facilitator, network system administrator, public key infrastructure (PKI) trusted agent, Information Systems Security Assistance (ISSA), and the organizational administrator for the C2OIX Messaging Systems. I was the project lead on a secure VTC system refresh that totaled over $100,000. I’m the project lead on an equipment refresh for the Executive Conference Room that totals over $200,000. I’m also a consultant on a renovation project for Sector Guam’s Command Center and a consultant on a renovation project for the Joint Regional Command Center at District 14.  

MyCG: What have been some of your biggest challenges?  

Lawson: As with most projects, funding is a challenge. Being in Hawaii, distance is an obstacle. Red tape is challenging and at times confusing. Procedures are constantly changing and hard to keep up with. Having to rely on others to complete your project can also be a challenge because your priority isn’t necessarily theirs. 

MyCG: What does it mean to you to receive this award? 

Lawson: This prestigious award means a lot to me. I am humbled and proud to receive it and I just hope I can live up to what it symbolizes. After being notified I was nominated, I went back and checked past winners and read up on Cmdr. John P. Dailey. He was truly an inspiring individual.