2012 Coastguardsman of the Year
Ensign Stacy SmithSingle. Played soccer all four years of college at Appalachian State University.
Ensign Stacy Smith loved living in Ketchikan, Alaska, and experiencing a place so different from her hometown of Atlanta. While serving there as a fireman at a search-and-rescue station, the then-enlisted Coast Guardsman said she became part of the community through volunteering, both at a local soup kitchen and with a high school girls soccer team.
When Smith left Ketchikan in January to attend Officer Candidate School, her mark on the community and the unit remained. Others at the station continue to volunteer in the community, according to the station’s executive officer, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Josh Bartlett.
“She certainly inspired others to [volunteer]. It’s still ongoing,” Bartlett said. “The people she introduced to it are still doing it and introducing it to others.” For her commitment to the community and above-and-beyond performance on the job, Smith is the 2012 Navy Times Coast Guardsman of the Year. Today, she is stationed in Miami on the fast response cutter Bernard C. Webber, which is patrolling Caribbean waters for drugs and illegal migrants.
Smith, who reported to Webber in May after finishing OCS, hasn’t had a chance to get involved in her new Florida community. However, once she falls into a normal schedule, she said she plans to find ways to volunteer — and get the crew involved, too. She has already begun to mentor other crew members on her new ship, said Lt. Cmdr. Herb Eggert, Webber’s commanding officer.
“I know she’s taken one of our nonrates under her wing to talk to her about how to apply for OCS and what the process is like,” Eggert said. “So while she hasn’t had the opportunity so much to help in the community, she definitely still has that altruistic personality where she’s helping the crew.”
Smith, who has been in the Coast Guard for three years, knew she wanted to be an officer when she joined. But serving as an enlisted Coast Guardsman first, she said, has given her a viewpoint that most officers don’t get. “When you’re a nonrate, you’re just told, ‘This is what you need to do,’ and you’re like, ‘All right,’ and you go do it,” she said, referring to those junior enlisted Coast Guardsmen who do not yet have an assigned job. “Now, it’s more that I’m developing what needs to get done and making sure it’s getting done.”
Though she has only been stationed on Webber for about a month, Eggert said he’s been “very impressed.”
“She’s been very serious about getting her initial qualifications done and she’s started to take on some leadership roles,” like working toward becoming the first lieutenant in charge of the deck department, he said.
Smith has also taken over the role of training officer. Her first project in this role is prepping for the ship’s “ready for operations inspection” at the end of July to ensure everything on the ship is in working order. The Webber is the first-in-class FRC, a class that will replace the outdated 110-foot Island-class patrol boats. Because Smith and the crew are on a new ship, learning presents its own challenges. “There’s just no basis yet because it hasn’t been done, so we’re, as a crew, working through that and getting ready,” she said. “It’s exciting to be a part of.” Though Smith’s Miami crew hasn’t known her for long, Eggert said he can already see why she’s the 2012 winner.
“It’s not a surprise to me ... the way she’s come on board,” he said. “It’s been an impressive first month or so.”
Smith said she still has plans to find another soccer team to coach. In Ketchikan, coaching was one of her most memorable activities.
“You could tell that they appreciated me being there and they’d come and ask me questions about college and playing soccer, about being a student-athlete or being in the military,” Smith said. “Hopefully I was able to motivate and influence them a little bit. But I think that was definitely the most rewarding for me, getting to spend time with them and learn from them.”