Petty Officer 1st Class Hannah Hall, a boatswain’s mate at Station Georgetown, South Carolina, is the 2022 Coast Guard Enlisted Person of the Year for the Reserve Component.
Hall serves as the Reserve Training Petty Officer, where she develops comprehensive training plans enabling members to earn additional qualifications needed to increase overall unit readiness. She leverages her specialized skillset as a trauma nurse to carry out Coast Guard operations and to train her crews. In her off-duty time, she spearheaded a 5K run to raise funds for cancer research in support of a shipmate's family member, deployed innovative recruiting practices by inviting local community members to attend drill weekends, and instituted Family Night during reserve drill weekend to foster strong working relationships.
MyCG recently caught up with Hall to chat about her Coast Guard experiences.
How did you find out you were selected as the Reserve Enlisted Person of the Year?
When I was told the station was submitting a package on my behalf, I laughed as there are people a lot more deserving than me. My command surprised me in telling me I had won at sector. The Sector SRO (Senior Reserve Officer) came to the station for what I thought was to be a routine visit…until I saw my husband there too. They totally set me up. Fast forward to last Wednesday, when I answered a call to someone saying, “I’m calling from the Office of the Vice Commandant. Please hold for a second.” I actually asked, “You mean the Vice Commandant… from the Coast Guard?!”
Operationally, you’ve done some cool stuff. What stories will you be telling when you retire?
I’ll always remember the times we’ve done 10 hours underway in heavy weather looking for people during a snowstorm up at Station Barnegat Light. There are those memorable cases with good endings and those with bad endings. But I think more likely I won’t be talking about cases specifically, but more so I’ll be telling stories about the crews that I worked with—that’s what makes this all so special.
We recently had a case where we were out training—I was teaching a BM3 (boatswain’s mate third class) some boat handling—and we came across a boat aground. There were two men onboard and the older man—the father—was slumped over the steering wheel and slurring his words. With my medical training (as a trauma nurse), I believed him to be in medical distress, exhibiting signs of a stroke. While maneuvering my boat near the grounded boat, I guided the younger man on how to refloat his boat and continually assessed the older man’s medical status. We got them free from the bottom and safely to the pier where EMS was waiting. While being loaded into the ambulance, the older man expressed his gratitude and is now recovering from the suspected stroke. While that case was operationally challenging and memorable, what really made an impact and the story I’ll likely be telling years down the line is of how my newest crew member that day witnessed the seamless interagency coordination. As this was his first case, he was amazed at how it all came together and we all integrated so well to take care of this mariner in distress.
What or who motivates you?
I’d say my grandfather, though he passed a few years ago, continues to be my biggest motivator. He was always super supportive and proud of me. He supported my unconventional decision to turn down a full-ride scholarship to study atmospheric engineering in order to enlist and serve my country. He was Air Force, both my parent were Air Force pilots…so service is in my blood. I am motivated to continue to earn his pride in me.
I’m also motivated to help people. I’m very excited by the commandant’s focus on personnel support initiatives. I like to be involved with members and be empowered to make things happen. That why I want to be a Gold Badge in the future.
How do you balance your careers as a pediatric trauma nurse and a Coast Guard Reservist?
My faith for sure helps keep me balanced. But really, it’s my husband of seven years, Bobby, who makes it all happen! He is a blessing. He supports me in all I do and I couldn’t do it without him.
Do you have advice to offer your fellow reservists?
Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Ask ‘why?’ Things aren’t always going to work out on the first try, so be persistent. Give yourself the opportunity to go for what you want.
Did you have people in your career who taught or modeled that for you?
Yes! My current SERA (Senior Enlisted Reserve Advisor) at Station Georgetown, senior chief Shannon Depiesse, gives us all the opportunities and empowers the crew. And before that, at Station Barnegat Light, now retired chief Mark Dubonis opened my eyes to the power of asking why. He was always willing to train and encouraged me to refuse to take ‘no’ as an answer.
What ONE thing the CG could do to make your job just a bit easier?
I’d like for there to be a way to better incorporate civilian skills and professions in the Coast Guard workplace. We should hone in on the talents Reservists bring to the table. For instance, I have a Reservist currently taking basic ICS (Incident Command System) classes so he can do for the Coast Guard what he does on the outside as an assistance fire chief of a large city. He lives and breathes ICS in his civilian capacity, yet he’s taking ICS 300 for the Coast Guard. We’re missing out on maximizing the full potential people already have.
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