Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Auxiliarist Roland “Larry” Johnson

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Coast Guard Auxiliarists act as force multipliers for Coast Guard units across the nation. This all-volunteer service assist Coast Guard men and women on a daily basis by patrolling our waterways, conducting over flights for various operations and teaching people across the country the importance of safe boating practices.

Auxiliarist Roland “Larry” Johnson is one of these members who volunteers his time to do what he loves: serve his country.

Johnson’s service first began with the U.S. Navy in 1963, when he served aboard USS Bennington, working on the flight deck to recover aircraft. Next, he served aboard the USS Ticonderoga, which is cited as launching some of the first airstrikes into Vietnam. Following his sea duty, Johnson went on to serve at Naval Air Station Moffett, where he worked as an Air Direction Controller. After six years of service in the U.S. Navy, Johnson made the decision to transition back to civilian life.

Nearly 30 years later, Johnson was referred to the Coast Guard Auxiliary after checking into the possibility of becoming a ‘spotter’ for a local police department. After learning about the various missions the Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts, Johnson decided to offer his services.

Building on his past experiences with aviation, Johnson began his qualification to be an observer and spotter in October 2006 at Air Station Sacramento, California. As a spotter, Johnson is able to help identify if particular vessels are of interest to monitor. He also helps to document pollution spills, vessel traffic and environmental concerns.

After mastering his new role, Johnson quickly moved on to teaching others the role of the Coast Guard’s Auxiliary Aviation Program and teaches new spotters all aspects of the mission, including proper communications, recognition of vessels of interest and proper log-keeping procedures.

Currently, Johnson serves as one of the main instructors and examiners for flight observers in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He’s also had more than 250 flight hours as an Auxilirist and helps to augment the Operations Duty Officer rotation at the air station by volunteering to stand both day and night watches.

Petty Officer 1st Class Geoffrey Potter, who works alongside Johnson at Air Station Sacramento, has been continually impressed with Johnson’s contributions to the unit and Coast Guard missions.

Potter says that while Johnson is a regular watch stander at Air Station Sacramento, he also regularly comes in on his off days to provide any assistance the unit may need on that day.

“His commitment to the unit is tremendous and from a watch standpoint, his help is greatly appreciated,” said Potter. “We are extremely lucky to have so much help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary at Air Station Sacramento.”

Lt. Megan O’Connor, who also works alongside Johnson, cites his enthusiastic spirit and drive as two of his most defining and contagious qualities.

O’Connor says Johnson is also a powerful contributor to flight planning and crew safety, as he eagerly offers critical information that maximizes the success of each and every mission in which he is involved.

“Working with Mr. Johnson has been a true pleasure, as he continually reminds us of the significance of teamwork and the importance of capitalizing on the diverse talents of everyone within the unit,” O’Connor said.

And at the end of the day, when the normal crews head home and leave Johnson standing the watch, they know they have nothing to worry about.

“I know the unit is in good hands whenever Mr. Johnson is on duty,” said Dan Bishop, operations officer at Air Station Sacramento. “He is a tremendous force-multiplier that brings with him exceptional wisdom, leadership and experience as he stands the watch for us.”

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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