The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) presented the 2009 Excellence in Military Service Awards during the Armed Forces Awards Breakfast yesterday in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lieutenant Antonio Donis and Port Security Specialist Third Class Jimmy L. Rodriguez are the Coast Guard’s award winners.
As the Active Duty recipient, LT Donis earned the honor for his role as the COMPASS Program Manager in the Office of Diversity at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC. As a national diversity program, the COMPASS connects with Coast Guard Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian, Auxiliary and retired volunteers to encourage their participation in their local communities. The mission is to represent the Coast Guard in underrepresented areas and conduct outreach with the public that raises America’s understanding and awareness of the Coast Guard and its employment opportunities.
As the Program Manager, LT Donis has been instrumental to the success of COMPASS. He manages a diverse team of 500 COMPASS members located throughout the nation and coordinates their outreach efforts. An outreach event could be as big as organizing and representing the Coast Guard at a national conference, or as small as participating in a high-school or college career fair. Additionally, he meticulously managed a budget of $190K and partnered with other entities to share costs and extend funds. LT Donis is also the Project Officer for the Hispanic American, African American, Asian American, and Arab American TIYM Yearbooks promoting Coast Guard opportunities in advertisements to over 80,000 people per year. He also mentored, developed and promoted the advancement and retention of Hispanics through his work with the Association of Naval Services Officers. As an illustration of his professionalism and respected demeanor, he was selected to serve as the Military Escort for the Vice President at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
As the Reserve recipient, Port Security Specialist Third Class Rodriguez earned the honor for his service as a member of Tactical Law Enforcement Team South in Opa Locka, Florida. Between January 2008 and May 2009, Petty Officer Rodriguez continually demonstrated a dedication to duty beyond his rating. He deployed to the Northern Arabian Gulf, in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, where he provided critical support to the Naval Training Team in Umm Qsar, Iraq and helped to train more than 30 Iraqi Marines. He also participated in domestic counter-narcotic operations during a 50-day deployment in the Western Caribbean. He conducted joint operations with the Jamaican Defense Force to deter drug and arms smuggling. He then volunteered for a second Northern Arabian Gulf deployment where he led a focused training effort to prepare 30 Navy personnel and 40 Iraqi Marines for maritime boarding operations. Petty Officer Rodriguez went on to lead the first boarding team that apprehended 16 Somali pirates during their attempt to hijack merchant vessels transiting off the eastern coast of Africa.
USCG Rear Admiral Ronald J. Rábago was the keynote speaker at the ceremony and presented the award to LT Donis and PO Rodriguez. Service members earn the award by distinguishing themselves in the war on terrorism or by actively supporting the ideals of duty, honor, country, and epitomizing the core values of their respective military service.
For more than 80 years, LULAC has worked hard to advance and bring forth positive change to the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.
To read the award announcement, click here.