Petty Officer 2nd Class Rita Martinez, a yeoman stationed at Coast Guard Base Seattle, stands near the base pier, June 28, 2018. Martinez is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Military Service Award for how she has distinguished herself as a leader, mentor, advocate of diversity and integration of Latina women in the armed forces, and earned the respect of her superiors, peers and community leaders. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Rita Martinez.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: YN2 Rita Martinez

Petty Officer 2nd Class Rita Martinez, a yeoman stationed at Coast Guard Base Seattle, is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Military Service Award for how she has distinguished herself as a leader, mentor, advocate of diversity and integration of Latina women in the armed forces, and earned the respect of her superiors, peers and community leaders.


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: MST2 Zac Edwards

Petty Officer 2nd Class Zac Edwards’s wedding to his wife Cindy was more exciting than he ever imagined. While taking photos after the ceremony, he noticed a teenage boy struggling in the current about 60 yards from Orange Beach, Alabama. With Cindy’s urging, Zac hurried to rescue the boy.


U.S. Coast Guard Fireman Dallin Matthews, a member of the Coast Guard Fire Department stationed at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., poses for a photo in front of fire engine 31 at the Coast Guard Fire Department at Training Center Cape May, July 30, 2018. Matthews pulled a woman that crashed her car into a tree at high speeds out of her smoldering vehicle near Higbee's Beach. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Fireman Dallin Matthews

Coast Guard Fireman Dallin Matthews, a member of the Coast Guard Fire Department stationed at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, witnessed a woman crash into a tree. His training as a firefighter and quick thinking led him to safely extract the woman from her smoldering car and save her life.

“It’s a surreal experience. Being able to be a part of that individual’s life at such a critical moment for them, while they are absolutely alone and in need of help, is a life changing experience.” – Fireman Dallin Matthews


Don Johnson directs the Coast Guard Headquarters Chorus during an All Hands holiday concert in December 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Don Johnson

Don Johnson has spent 45 years of his life with the Coast Guard as an active duty member, civilian and volunteer. He currently works at Coast Guard Headquarters and is a beloved Coast Guard Headquarters Chorus director who has brought a respite for many during the workday through chorus practices or the occasional All Hands concerts. Johnson embodies the Coast Guard’s Core Values while finding ways to bring joy and good humor to those around him.


George Gray Award winner Leendert van der Pool. Courtesy photo.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Leendert van der Pool

Each year a collection of artwork is submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard Art Program where a panel of judges selects a recipient for the George Gray Award for Artistic Excellence – in other words, they choose a “best in show.” This year’s award goes to Leendert van der Pool for his oil painting titled “Partnership.”


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Aidalis Mills

Aidalis Mills has been a civil servant at the 9th Coast Guard District for over 20 years. As the Coast Guard Reserve funds manager for the 9th District, Mills’ job is to execute funding associated with reserve affairs for over 450 reservists across the district. She is also the Hispanic Emphasis program manager, a member of the Leadership and Diversity Advisory Committee, a Defense Finance and Accounting Service committee member and a volunteer within the community. Her selfless service has earned her the 2018 George R. Putnam Inspirational Leadership award. Read more to find out what inspires this inspirational leader.


Cmdr. Zeita Merchant stands aboard a Coast Guard smallboat.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Cmdr. Zeita Merchant

Cmdr. Zeita Merchant, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago, was presented with the 2017 Capt. David H. Jarvis Inspirational Leadership Award by the Navy League in Portland, Oregon, on June 7. The award was presented to the Coast Guard officer who made outstanding contributions to the high standards of leadership traditions in the Coast Guard.


Vice Adm. Michael McAllister (right), deputy commandant for mission support, and Alan Kaplan, national president of the Navy League, present Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Meister, food services officer, Sector San Francisco, with the Douglas A. Munro Award for Inspirational Leadership, during the 2018 Navy League National Caonvention held in Portland, Ore., June 8, 2018. The Douglas A. Munro Award for inspirational leadership is awarded to the Coast Guard enlisted member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and professional competence to the extent of their rank and rate. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: CSC Elizabeth Meister

Chicago native, Chief Petty Officer Elizabeth Meister, a culinar specialist, is the 2018 winner of the Douglas A. Munro Award. The award, presented once a year, recognizes Coast Guard enlisted members who demonstrate outstanding leadership qualities and professional expertise. Meister’s commitment to others is seen not only in the galley of Sector San Francisco, but with the mentorship and leadership she provides as well as participation with the victim’s advocate and Leadership Diversity Advisory Council.


A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat Medium circles a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel in preparation for a side-tow demonstration during the Regatta Point Marina Nautical Association Spring Expo. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from the 7th District near Coast Guard Station Cortez routinely work with the active duty Coast Guard for training, demonstrations, and patrols. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by Patti Kuhn.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Coast Guard Auxiliary

Today the Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates its proud history of outstanding volunteer service on America’s waterways, turning 79 years young…and its members show no signs of slowing down. Auxiliarists have supported Coast Guard missions along our nation’s coasts and inland waters, with emphasis on the promotion of recreational boating safety, since June 23, 1939, when Congress authorized the formation of the Coast Guard’s “Volunteer Reserve.”


Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff Melitski shows off his Reserve Enlisted Person of the Year award. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: ME1 Jeff Melitski

The Coast Guard prides itself on honor, respect and devotion to duty for the men and women in its ranks. Once a year, a member of the Coast Guard is selected as the top performer in the service for the active duty and the reserve component through the enlisted person of the year program. For 2017, the Coast Guard recently selected New Jersey native Petty Officer 1st Class Jeff P. Melitski as the Coast Guard Reserve Enlisted Person of the Year.


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