2007 Coastguardsman of the Year
Health Services Technician Anjelica Hopkins-Slayton
Hails from a Navy family: mother and stepfather are both Navy medical personnel. Graduated from high school in Naples, Italy.
MIAMI, Florida - Health Services Technician 3rd Class Anjelica Hopkins-Slayton, 20, was one half of the two-person medical team aboard the cutter Dallas, on patrol in the Caribbean last September, when it stopped a boat crammed with more than 80 Cuban migrants.
The migrants were brought aboard, and suddenly her ship was full of strangers, some of whom needed help.
"It was an environment where you know you have to take control because it's either going to go on the straight and narrow, or go crazy, and I definitely didn't want it to go crazy," Hopkins-Slayton said.
So she took control. She has made a habit of that.
Working with shipmates, and even enlisting the help of a Cuban doctor who spoke enough English to help translate, Hopkins-Slayton "exhibited a command presence far greater than that expected of a 19-year-old HS3," wrote her department head, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas Apperson.
She quickly arranged medical care for the migrants, some of whom were badly dehydrated. When a man complained of severe pain, Hopkins-Slayton started intravenous therapy and gave him morphine - "Something I would never have fathomed doing as a third class," she said. "It was extremely exciting.
"I like being in any situation where there's high drama," she said. "I love that. I like being challenged. It's where you find out what you actually know."
Hopkins-Slayton spent an eventful 18 months aboard the Dallas, during which she looked after her shipmates and contributed to a range of public-service projects, including a big repair job on a school and orphanage in the Dominican Republic.
"Her work ethic was tremendous," said the Dallas' skipper, Capt. Eric Brown. Hopkins-Slayton was "admired and respected by all."
Brown and other superiors eventually made her Coast Guard Atlantic Area's enlisted person of the year. When she went to Washington, D.C., to accept that award, she was challenged again.
Hopkins-Slayton had to give a toast along with other military honorees in front of a galaxy of flag officers' stars, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Master Chief William James said. But the script for the toast got lost, Hopkins-Slayton said, and she was able to get it from the hotel fax machine mere moments before she was scheduled to speak. Meanwhile, senior officers, including captains and commanders, were standing up.
"And they all blew their toasts," James said. "They forgot the words. She was the only one who got it right. She personalized it a little bit, made a hit in front of the crowd. This is a very together young lady," he said.
James said he hopes Hopkins-Slayton stays in the Coast Guard and becomes an officer, but she laughed and demurred when asked about her future plans. She serves now in the medical center at Coast Guard Air Station Miami and has a year left in uniform, but she said her future "is all up in the air right now."
Even with the official attention that her accolades have attracted, Hopkins-Slayton said she doesn't feel any pressure as she considers how to move forward.
"I'm doing something somewhat right, so I'm going to continue to do that," she said. "Whenever you're put into a position where you're honored, you should definitely take that time to let other people know that they can do the exact same thing that you're doing, that you're no different. Having a good attitude has gotten me where I am. You've got to remember that, at the end of the day, just relax, you know?"