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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 1, 2022

Coast Guard chief petty officer recognized for contributions to under-represented communities

By Master Chief Petty Officer Mike Hvozda, Sector San Juan command master chief

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) recognized District 7’s offload coordinator, July 28,  as the 2022 Excellence in Service Award recipient for the Coast Guard at the 93rd LULAC National Convention and Exposition in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Chief Petty Officer George Soto, a native from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was honored at the event during the Defenders of Freedom Breakfast.

Sector San Juan’s deputy commander, Capt. Robert Pirone, and Master Chief Petty Officer Mike Hvozda, command master chief, represented Soto locally as the Coast Guard’s nominating officers. Joining Soto as his guests were his mother, Jeanette Perez, his wife Stephanie Severns who also proudly serves the country in the Public Health Service, and Lt. Cmdr. Chuck Wilson, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Doyle and senior officer present afloat at Sector San Juan. 

Soto was recognized as an outstanding person who advances diversity, education, economics, and health in communities, with a focus on under-represented populations. Understanding that a shortage existed for youth and diversity organization volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Soto selflessly supported two local organizations, including a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, and provided mentoring for 800 cadets from 30 high schools in Southeast Florida. The initiative included dedicating over 30 hours to guiding participants from 14 to 17 years old in different competitions and events. Soto's devotion taught the young cadets to believe in themselves, meet their personal goals, and make a lasting, positive impact during their lives. Additionally, Soto dedicated over 100 hours to planning and presenting one of District 7's largest diversity celebrations during Hispanic Heritage Month to educate the workforce on several Hispanic and Latin American cultures.