Shipmate of the Week – MCPOCG Michael Leavitt

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Gray, left, and Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt, right, await an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter as they support a local resident awaiting medical transport Feb. 25, 2007. Photo courtesy of The Eureka Reporter.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Gray, left, and Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt, right, await an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter as they support a local resident awaiting medical transport Feb. 25, 2007. Photo courtesy of The Eureka Reporter.

After three decades of serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, it’d be hard to narrow down the most vivid memory, compelling moment or proudest accomplishment. But for Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt, there was no hesitation to key in on what really mattered to him throughout his career – Coast Guardsmen and their families.

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt poses for a portrait with his wife and two daughters. Photo courtesy of The Leavitt Family.

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt poses for a portrait with his wife and two daughters. Photo courtesy of The Leavitt Family.

“Professionally, my proudest moments during my career have come from working side-by-side with the young men and women that join the Coast Guard, teaching them and watching them excel,” said Leavitt. “There’s nothing like getting a recruit out of boot camp, working with them to become a master of their profession and seeing them take that small boat out in heavy surf or launch that small boat off the cutter with precision and confidence. It makes you proud, watching them carry on the legacy of the people who came before and knowing that in some way you are a small part of that.”

Leavitt assumed his duties as the 11th master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard on May 21, 2010. In this role, Leavitt served as an advisor to the commandant on enlisted workforce policies, military benefits and entitlements. Leavitt also advocated for strong support systems at home, something he experienced with his own family.

“Personally, my proudest accomplishment is that I have family and friends that support me in everything that I do,” said Leavitt. “Above all, my wife Debbie and my three girls, Stephanie, Cassandra and Crystal, and my mom, Patricia Ann, have been there every step of the way in my Coast Guard career.”

Leavitt’s lifelong commitment to protecting those on the sea started far from shore. It was a motor lifeboat poster in his small hometown of Fruitland, Idaho, that first ignited his passion.

“I saw a recruiting poster on a telephone pole of a 44-foot motor life boat breaking though the surf and I said to myself, ‘I’d really like to do that!’” recalled Leavitt.

He broke through the surf and more. Much more. Leavitt will retire next week in a change of watch ceremony after 32 years of service. Along the way, he has earned a permanent cutterman insignia, surfman insignia, boat forces operations insignia and both command afloat and ashore devices.

“The Coast Guard has exposed me to so many different things,” said Leavitt. “Whether it’s the rescues that I’ve been involved with, the law enforcement missions, the leadership decisions … all of my experiences significantly changed how I see things.”

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt and his wife, Debbie, on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of The Leavitt Family.

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt and his wife, Debbie, on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of The Leavitt Family.

Some of these experiences involved missions the American public doesn’t often see. As Leavitt traveled to units around the world, he worked with community leaders to ensure the missions of the Coast Guard were known – even those missions that are unseen.

“While the American public sees the Coast Guard in action, it is often due to rescue operations, hurricane responses or natural disasters,” said Leavitt. “While these are important Coast Guard missions, the American public often doesn’t see everything else that is going on behind the scenes.”

“They don’t see the Coast Guard inspecting vessels, making sure they are secure and safe,” added Leavitt. “They don’t see our personnel working tirelessly protecting ports here in the United States and overseas. They don’t see us inspecting fishing vessels to make sure they comply with U.S. and international law. They don’t see the Coast Guard ensuring our waterways are marked to prevent accidents from happening. Though these things may not be as glamorous as some of our other missions, these are some of the most important things that Coast Guard men and women do and these are things that the American public rarely sees.”

During his tenure as the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, Leavitt devoted much of his time engaging with Coast Guardsmen and their families. Sometimes Leavitt would hold small meetings to discuss the issues on servicemembers’ minds. But other times he was representing Coast Guard men and women and testifying before Congress.

“That was such a humbling experience,” said Leavitt. “The stark reality of testifying and the responsibility of serving the men and women of the Coast Guard will always be a significant memory.”

Leavitt’s passion is just as strong as the day he first set eyes on the motor lifeboat poster in Fruitland more than 30 years ago. What has mattered to Leavitt every step along the way was his people and their families. With a change of watch and retirement looming, he leaves behind one last thought for his fellow Coast Guardsmen.

“Set goals and work hard towards accomplishing them, maintain a positive attitude regardless and have fun,” said Leavitt. “It is without a doubt that you are going to face challenges along the way. It is how you handle those challenges that mark your future success. Always try to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.”

Semper Paratus, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt!

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt during an earlier assignment at Station Coos Bay, Ore. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt during an earlier assignment at Station Coos Bay, Ore. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Do you know a Shipmate that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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One Response

  1. Charles Bowen says:

    My congratulations to MCPOCG Mike Leavitt as he retires this week from our service. He has made a positive difference throughout his career particularly these last 4 years as he has helped both the Coast Guard’s leadership and the Coast Guard’s workforce and their families weather the storms of uncertain times.
    My very best to Mike and Deb and they begin a new chapter in their lives.
    Skip Bowen