2003 Coastguardsman of the Year
Boatswain Mate Chief Terry Lathrop
ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. - In an understaffed unit, Chief Petty Officer Terry W. Lathrop serves as Operations Chief and Command Chief for Coast Guard Station St. Clair Shores. He exemplifies the leadership, integrity, and concern for his shipmates and community that defines today's Coast Guard.
When his previous commanding officer was diagnosed with cancer and unable to return to work, Chief Lathrop worked hand-in-hand with the executive officer to ensure smooth running operations and upbeat crew spirit. In addition to maintaining all his regular duties, he handled all personnel and administrative issues, such as evaluations, medical concerns and interactions with the local community.
Chief Lathrop initiated many training and educational programs that have increased qualification and readiness at his command. He restructured the unit training program, redefining performance goals, qualification standards and streamlining training timelines. As a result, he qualified seven Law Enforcement Boarding Officers, five Coxswains, five Boat crewmen and three Boat engineers. His effort in training and readiness also resulted in the unit receiving the prestigious Sumner I. Kimball award for superior operational readiness. Chief Lathrop implemented the first-ever Station Senior Petty Officer Mast proceeding, to assist in evaluating and improving the performance of junior personnel. This leadership initiative improved the performance of at least six members and greatly aided in retention efforts. "He displays a keen sense of ethical conduct and a high degree of personal integrity," says one colleague. "A qualification recommendation from Chief Lathrop is a significant accomplishment," says one officer. "I have never served with an individual at any pay grade more committed and focused on the Coast Guard mission and its people."
Chief Lathrop volunteered over 200 hours for public speaking and participation in community organizations. "He has spear-headed and led every unit outreach and community service effort," says his current commanding officer. His personal dedication inspired station personnel to participate in community outreach to local schools and children's organizations. Community organizations have written more than 20 letters to Chief Lathrop to thank him for the numerous outreach programs he has initiated. He reinvigorated the relationship with the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, forming a solid partnership, providing them unwavering support and fostering a 500% increase in the Auxiliary voluntary participation in unit operational and administrative support. This resulted in an increased number of qualified watch standers and involvement of the Auxiliary in direct search and rescue support, boating safety patrols and winter weather condition reporting. He made certain that all Auxiliary flotillas were adequately trained and equipped to support and significantly enhance the capabilities of St. Clair Shores Coast Guard units.
Leading by example is something Chief Lathrop has taken to heart. It is common to hear other shipmates sing his praises, and he is usually the one to whom younger sailors turn. "Chief's the person I want to work with again," and "the Chief is the one who knows and can help," are comments from his colleagues. He goes the extra mile in helping his shipmates, listening, and mentoring. "He demonstrates a sincere interest and concern for junior personnel," said one shipmate. "Chief Lathrop constantly looks for opportunities to help you excel and to give those around him the opportunity to achieve and surpass their goals." His care and concern extends beyond professional concern and into the personal well-being of his colleagues. For example, when a fellow Coast Guardsman confided that he was deeply troubled and contemplated suicide, Chief Lathrop immediately dropped everything and worked tirelessly to assist the member to get counseling. Although the individual is not his subordinate, he continues to provide this colleague mentoring. Another NCO says, "Terry is the standard for being a great Chief, a leader that I and other juniors can follow and respect. Coast Guard values flow in his blood, and I have never served with anyone who has more honor and respect than him."
Chief Petty Officer Terry W. Lathrop's desire to excel and ability to motivate and inspire those around him make him a fine example of the best of the United States Coast Guard.