Courtesy article from Coast Guard Reservist Magazine
I can’t say how honored and humbled I am to be chosen as the eighth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve. Master Chief Williamson has left some big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to it.
Let me tell you a little bit about my background.
Around 1984, I began my military career with nine years of active duty in the Army doing land combat systems support. Eventually, I transferred to the Army Reserve in Oregon. While training to become a drill instructor, I met a member of Port Security Unit 313. His job sounded way more fun than mine, so, in 1998, I joined this great service.
My original rating in the Coast Guard was port securityman, but with the rating merge of 2010, I became a maritime enforcement specialist. I’ve served a lot of units on the West Coast, including two Port Security Units (PSUs).
On the civilian side, I’ve been in law enforcement for more than two decades. I retired in March 2022 from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office in Oregon as a patrol sergeant, but I’ve also worked on the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and the dive team.
Now, coming into this position, I recognized two things immediately: the world is changing quickly, and the demand for Coast Guard support has never been higher. The reserve component enables a huge part of that, especially with contingencies.
As you know, over the past few years, reservists have been called upon for a lot of short-fuse requests, not only for core missions but also many non-traditional missions, such as the Southwest Border, Operation Allies Welcome, and the COVID-19 vaccination clinics. In each instance, we have met the call; more often, we’ve gone beyond expectations to the point it’s been hard for commands to want to let us go. That’s the caliber of our people.
As reservists, we are a force of “doers;” when the nation calls, we respond without hesitation to get the job done. I’ve met so many of you who love to serve, and it shows in the quality of your work.
We all took an oath to serve, and sometimes that oath requires us to work long hours, or at night, or in dangerous conditions to achieve mission success. In return, your leaders provide support and clear any barriers that prevent you from performing at your highest level. As leaders, that’s our most important job.
I recently heard this summed up perfectly. I was on the phone with CG Fix-it getting my phone set up at headquarters, and the tech was great. When I thanked him for helping me, he said, “No, you’re welcome. It’s my job to help you do your job.”
Leadership is about service to others—removing the logjams that prevent people from becoming proficient in their chosen craft. It’s our job to help make it easier for you to continue to do what you do best.
So, to the reserve workforce, that’s my promise to you. I will strive every day for the next four years to work for you, and live up to that pledge. Luckily, I’m part of a great team, alongside Admiral Fagan and the new MCPOCG Heath Jones, as well as the experienced leaders within the Coast Guard Reserve.
I need your help, though. Over the next four years, we must change our mindset to one of innovation. Traditional methods of training, leadership and engagement will be challenged, but reservists have always used their backgrounds in civilian employment and active duty experience to adapt.
Our Coast Guard is changing fast to keep up with this world, and “that’s the way we’ve always done it” will no longer be an acceptable approach. It will take this unconventional leadership style at the levels of the service.
I’m ready to get to work, and I know you are, too.