Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Capt. Carola List

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Scheetz

Capt. Carola List on the left. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Capt. Carola List on the left. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The commanding officer at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento confessed that when she watched Maverick and Iceman soar through the air in “Top Gun,” it solidified her lifelong desire to pursue flight as a military aviator. Selected to both the Navy and Coast Guard, her professional path led her to become a Coastie because she said, “I believe then, as I do now, that the U.S. Coast Guard was the nation’s best kept secret.”

List is a member of a pretty exclusive club that consists of a small handful of female captains holding a command position in the Coast Guard. In order to attain such a leadership position, she had to overcome a few challenges along the way that credits to her success.
One such challenge that stands out thus far in List’s career is being a female in a predominantly male profession.

“When I was in high school, girls weren’t flying then,” said List. “We had a flight club that was run by a retired Air Force colonel in our high school. It was all guys and me in the flight club. I was used to always being one of the group. Part of it is that women didn’t know that aviation as a career opportunity was open to them, so it wasn’t pursued. [Being a woman in a male profession] hasn’t ever really phased me much.”

Capt. Carola List on the right. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Capt. Carola List on the right. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Some of List’s success as a leader is credited to an early mentor, now retired Coast Guard Adm. Vivan Crea.

“She sought me out because I was the only female junior officer at that district office,” recounted List. “That was the first time I had ever met another female Coast Guard officer other than at Officer Candidate School. I watched her progress through her career and break a lot of barriers in the Coast Guard.

“I look at ways folks before me have led and say, ‘Wow, that’s something I want to remember.’ I want to take those qualities and build them into my basket of leadership traits.”

Everybody leads in a different way, List believes. She creates an environment in which her team can be challenged, learn, grow, and most of all accomplish the mission.

“I take pride in knowing that I’ve helped develop somebody, provided them opportunities, and seen them go on to do great things.”

List added, “I take great pride in my members’ accomplishments than my own personal ones. I define my success more on how I can help others reach their goals.”

She also went on to say, “If you take care of your people and build positive relationships, you’ll be able to build some great leaders. My philosophy has always been, in every position I’ve been in, to grow my replacement and provide those leadership opportunities.”

Capt. Carola List, center bottom row, stands with female members of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Capt. Carola List, center bottom row, stands with female members of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

List continues to lead and mentor an upcoming generation of Coast Guard members who will guide our distinguished service into the future. She is an accomplished aviator, leader, and pioneer for women everywhere. Her legacy of selfless devotion to her country, service, and crew, make for a strong and respected role model for everyone.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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