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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 1, 2023

U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognizes employees at award ceremony hosted by Coast Guard Base Boston

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

Recognizing the work, sacrifice, and professional excellence of 1,385 award recipients, DHS is holding regional ceremonies in communities across the country.  
These awardees performed above and beyond the call of duty, responding in amazing ways to the challenges of protecting the homeland. These individuals have displayed a special dedication to the mission of homeland security, setting a great example for all DHS employees who share their commitment to the Department and to the American people. 

The Coast Guard awardees are:

Exceptional Service Gold Medal 2023 

  • Lt. Cmdr. David Steele served as the Coast Guard Liaison Officer and dual-hat DHS Attaché to the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from June 21, 2021, through June 23, 2022. Within weeks of his arrival, Steele led the U.S. government's initial response to the devastating 2021 earthquake. Additionally, he ensured rapid repatriations resulting from a historic surge in illicit maritime migration, managed aviation repatriations from Del Rio, Texas, and coordinated the medical evacuations of American missionaries taken captive by criminal networks and gangs operating across the island. 

Meritorious Service Silver Medal 2023 

  • Illegal Charters Enforcement Team Sector Miami continues to see uninspected passenger vessels conduct illegal charter activity throughout the area of responsibility.  To protect lives, educate the public and target this activity for enforcement, the Illegal Charters Enforcement Team rallied maritime, local, state, and federal partners to create public outreach, education, and enforcement opportunities.   
  • Operation Allies Welcome Unified Coordination Group worked to coordinate the U.S. government's effort to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. This team helped shift the U.S. government resettlement system from handling less than 10,000 refugee resettlement cases per year to a projected 100,000 in a year. The OAW UCG team went above and beyond to serve those who stood alongside the United States. 
  • The Crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) successfully executed 24 influential multi-mission patrols advancing Service and national imperatives throughout the Indo-Pacific region, which has become the epicenter of 21st century geopolitics. Most notably, the crew excelled at promoting regional cooperation through diplomatic efforts during the completion of 29 at-sea and shoreside engagements with Pacific Island Countries and Territories and likeminded allies. Combating the leading global maritime threat of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, the crew of the cutter Oliver Henry dedicated 90 presence days in the high seas and Exclusive Economic Zones of Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands. 

Leadership Excellence 2023 

  • Lt. Juan Cestero went well above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Sector Juneau and its Response subunits maintained full operational readiness during a period of intense trial involving a multi-month gap in his supervisor's position, commissioning and homeporting a new fast response cutter, four cutter re-homeporting evolutions, and two change-of-command ceremonies. These changes required multiple months' worth of planning to execute safely, which Cestero accomplished through deft management and superior communication skills while still ensuring Sector Juneau met, and in some cases exceeded, Sector and Seventeenth Coast Guard District maritime law enforcement goals. 
  • Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly Glore’s actions demonstrated a superior level of professional competence and maturity. Her leadership style is the embodiment of integrity and respect. She is a highly respected leader for her ability to balance the needs of her division with ever increasing leadership challenges. She exudes a natural leadership style and collaborative methodology easily gaining favor among peers. She was hand selected to serve as Sector Miami's Recruiting Liaison overseeing all unit recruiting efforts in South Florida during this unprecedented time of personnel shortages. 
  • Lorna Jerome and the Office of General Counsel Workforce Team was directed to review the employee discipline policies and processes used throughout DHS components and offices to recommend improvements, ensuring that the processes align with best practices and applicable legal requirements. After five months, the Secretary approved OGC’s proposed improvements and began to implement them. OGC’s work on this reflects the Department’s continued commitment to ensuring accountability, integrity, and fairness. 

Valor 2023 

  • Fishing Vessel Glory Rescue Crew CG-6036, on Feb. 7, 2022, launched in response to a MAYDAY call from the fishing vessel Glory, a 40-foot trawler rapidly taking on water with two people aboard. The crew navigated the aircraft in the dark of night between rugged terrain and a 100-foot cloud layer and arrived on-scene to tropical storm-force winds and powerful downdrafts, which nearly plunged the aircraft into the ocean. As the boat was battered against the jagged shoreline, the crew completed three demanding bow hoists. As the boat pivoted on submerged rocks, the crew narrowly dodged a collision with the heaving mast. Two more times, as gusts threw the helicopter within feet of 80-foot trees, impact was averted through pilot-controlled inputs. Recovering the fishermen, the crew climbed away from the terrain and immediately lost all visual references. Relying on radar navigation, the crew navigated Coast Guard Rescue 6036 through a narrow island pass and back to Sitka, unquestionably saving two lives. 

Innovation 2023 

  • Chief Storekeeper Kyle Nester selflessly created a pollution incident daily resource report master dashboard, which is an enterprise level tool that captures information required in the Coast Guard Form 5136. The innovative dashboard presents reports of financial data, resource, and manpower usage, as well as national pollution funds center spending. 
  • Base Galveston FAST Implementation Team developed, prototyped, and deployed an IT system to improve the Coast Guard’s ability to track and care for Coast Guard families and personnel impacted by contingency events. This tool allows the Service to streamline support services and entitlement delivery, thereby improving the Coast Guard’s overall emergency service response to the Nation during crises and contingencies. 

Team Excellence 2023 

  • Cmdr. Kristen Jaekel and the Ethos Training Development Team was integral to designing and producing the Professional-Public Service Ethos program, the first program of its kind in DHS. The program delivers on the Secretary’s intent to ensure the foundation of our workforce development focuses on what it means to be a public servant. By the end of CY2022, nearly 12,000 employees have completed the course. 
  • H-65 Conversion/Sustainment Program makes significant contributions to the Coast Guard's fleet by converting and delivering the more capable MH-65E helicopter and associated logistics that are providing aircrews the platform, tools, and training to successfully execute their missions and return safely. The Program is projected to complete well within cost and schedule parameters, while risks are trending lower and the MH-65E's performance is meeting or exceeding the fleet’s expectations. The Conversion Program also maintains a climate of high morale and personal growth and development, as evidenced by promotion and retention rates for its military, civilian, and even contractor personnel, and the program has repeatedly been a source for talent for other acquisitions and leadership initiatives. As mission readiness and accomplishment are the measures that matter most though: in just the past year the MH-65E has allowed more than 200 people in peril to survive, with 127 of those directly hoisted or carried into MH-65Es and another 81 assisted in their rescues by other assets.  
  • Transnational Organized Crime Mission Center (TOMC) and DHS Intelligence Enterprise Migration Indications and Warning Cell (MIWC) are actively engaged in identifying, assessing, and informing departmental and national leadership of significant threats to our national security and homeland. TOCM and MIWC analysts, team leads, branch chiefs, and senior intelligence officers create an innovative and collaborative environment that has helped DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the TOCM and MIWC to be recognized by our intelligence and law enforcement community partners as leaders in the campaign against illicit migration, human smuggling, and threats from Mexico-based drug cartels, specifically synthetic opioids. 
  • Unified Command Group, specifically Lt. Jonathan Lesieur and Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Molina, worked to coordinate the U.S. government's effort to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. This team helped shift the U.S. government resettlement system from handling less than 10,000 refugee resettlement cases per year to a projected 100,000 in a year. The OAW UCG team went above and beyond to serve those who stood alongside the United States.  

Champion of Equity Award 2023 

  • Lt. j.g. Marcus Boyd’s extraordinary talent and charisma was critical to the successful implementation of positive change for diversity, equity, and inclusion, both within the unit and throughout the Coast Guard. While serving as the assistant waterways management division chief for Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach, he brought members together online to have productive conversations about racial and social tensions in the wake of the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. Understanding the need to formalize the guidelines for challenging conversations, he drafted and executed a unit instruction for a Leadership and Inclusion Conversation Series. Boyd developed topics, invited speakers, and facilitated the discussions which served as a touchpoint for all members to come and learn from one another’s perspectives. He provided critical recommendations to the Coast Guard’s Diversity Change Agent program manager in revising training material, reducing redundancies, and addressing more effective ways to have tough conversations about privilege mentored. Boyd trained over 100 members on sensitive D&I topics to expand awareness across our national network of leaders. He conducted outreach to over two thousand students as lead project officer for the Coast Guard’s relationship with California State University, Long Beach in conducting outreach activities under the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI) Executive Champion Program.
    Lt. j.g. Marcus Boyd is the Coast Guard’s 2023 winner of the Capt. Edward R. Williams for Excellence in Diversity.

Volunteer Service 2023 

  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Couture, marine science technician, is commended for his outstanding servantship towards the public community, the military along with partnering agencies, and various local volunteer organizations. He demonstrated selfless volunteerism through his assistance at local food distribution centers, beach clean-up projects, support of Sea Cadets through the Navy League, honor flight representative, Partnership in Education agent, Sector Miami auxiliary liaison, and designated Sector Miami Volunteer Coordinator for 100+ members at unit. 

 Award recipients, from all DHS components, are located across 43 different states, countries, territories, and districts. View the full list of award categories and recipients


2023 Secretarys Awards | Homeland Security (