Guardian of the Week: AUX James McReynolds

Our Guardian of the Week is one of the 30,000 volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and earned the 2009 Commodore Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership Award for single-handedly rescuing his flotilla from being disbanded.

James McReynolds, a retired Army sergeant major, was on the verge of leaving the Auxiliary in 2008 after suffering a heart-attack.  But Flotilla 37, Biloxi, Miss., was on the verge of being shut down by Capt. James Montgomery, director of the 8th District Coastal Region Auxiliary.

“I put them on what I call probation-probation,” said Montgomery.  “I told them if you don’t have it together by 2009 I’ll have to disband you.”

The floundering flotilla, like so much of the Gulf, had been hit hard by Katrina and membership was down to just 16 members and was the least active in the region.  Things were so bad in 2008 that for six months they couldn’t even get enough bodies together to hold a meeting.

Still recovering from his heart attack, McReynolds had already turned in his paperwork to leave the service and had one foot out the door when he decided to take on the responsibility of turning things around.

Vice Adm. David Pekoske, Coast Guard Vice Commandant, and Master Chief Petty Officer of Coast Guard Reserve Forces Jeff Smith, present the Commodore Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership Award to Auxiliarist James McReynolds at a ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters May 11, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Anastasia Devlin.

Vice Adm. David Pekoske, Coast Guard Vice Commandant, and Master Chief Petty Officer of Coast Guard Reserve Forces Jeff Smith, present the Commodore Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership Award to Auxiliarist James McReynolds at a ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters May 11, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Anastasia Devlin.

“I found out it was about to fold up and I decided I’ll come back and get active,” said McReynolds.

Active might be the wrong word.  By the end of the year he had become flotilla commander and was holding a total of five posts at the unit.

“He gave all he had to the program,” said Montgomery.  “Things really started to snowball.”  Membership was growing again and McReynolds was doing everything he could to recruit more.

“I talked to everybody who would listen about joining,” said McReynolds.  “We’ve recruited some outstanding individuals.”

With 37 members now, the flotilla is the most active in the region.

McReynolds is genuinely humble about the recognition too.

“I didn’t feel like I was doing anything special,” said the former Army ranger.

“He has a quiet sense of responsibility,” said Montgomery.  “It’s in his nature to be behind the scenes.  That’s the mark of a good leader.”

Do you know someone in the Coast Guard that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit button at the top of the page.

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