Chief Warrant Officer Veronica Bandrowsky and Petty Officer Second Class Amir Lawal contributed to this post.
“This job is rewarding to say the least,” said Senior Chief Boatswains Mate (BMCS) Andrea L. Martynowski about her responsibilities at Coast Guard Training Center (TRACEN) Cape May. Last Friday was a big day for her. Not only did she graduate her first class of Company Commanders (CC) as the Coast Guard Company Commander School Chief, but she also marched in the Recruit Graduation as the Acting Battalion Commander. And, not to forget, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, was there attending graduation too.
So, what exactly does all that mean? It may not sound like much to the everyday person, but people who know the importance of TRACEN Cape May understand her very significant responsibilities. This training center is the home of Coast Guard Recruit Training, also known as Bootcamp. But, to train these newest members of our service, the Coast Guard needs qualified, first-rate Guardians to do the training.
This is where BMCS Martynowski comes in.
After a year of being a CC, BMCS Martynowski qualified and was selected to be both one of five Section Commanders as well as the CC School Chief in May of 2009. She is also one of only four females on the regiment and the only female Section Commander.
As the School Chief, she oversees the training of the petty officers and chief petty officers that train the recruits. She administers the school schedule, instructs classes, oversees the CC Training Program and qualification process, serves as a member of the Standardization Team, and conducts interviews of prospective Company Commander Candidates.
The six week CC School is a difficult and humbling program designed to turn a Guardian into a model leader and mentor to the men and women beginning their Coast Guard careers. According to BMCS Martynowski, “Some consider this course to be the hardest “C” School that the Coast Guard instructs. It is boot camp all over again, but at a completely different level.” The program consists of classroom lectures, practical exercises, role-play scenarios, case studies, military drill, leadership, coaching, time and stress management, and physical fitness. Additionally, the prospective CC’s must study and learn the extensive Standard Operating Procedures for Recruit Training and they must become certified as Coast Guard Instructors.
Furthermore, prospective CC’s face mental challenges as they are put to the test to prove their ability to fulfill their responsibilities of properly and ethically training the recruits. First, in CC school, rank does not mean the same as in day-to-day Coast Guard operations. Seniority and respect are given to those who have earned the title as a Company Commander rather than by their rank. BMCS Martynowski says, “How many schools do you know of that a Chief has to stand at attention and “square” the office of a Second Class Petty Officer?”
In the final stages of becoming a qualified CC, candidates must pass two intense and challenging review boards. The first and most demanding is the Drill Board where prospective CCs must demonstrate a thorough understanding and meticulous execution of different movements in Close Order Drill, Manual of Arms, Manual of Guidon, and Manual of Sword. Next, they must pass the Standard Operating Procedures board which is given by the Regimental Officer, Battalion Officer and Battalion Commander. One missed answer could mean the member fails the board.
But being in the CC School Chief is just one of the “hats” BMCS Martynowski wears. She is also one of five Section Commanders who supervise the CC’s and assist the Battalion Commander with running the day-to-day operations of the regiment. However, in the absence of the Battalion Commander, she assumes the role of Acting Battalion Commander. This is precisely what happened on Friday, making her the highest ranking CC on the regiment and therefore responsible for overseeing Recruit Training graduation.
“The job of a Company Commander is exceptionally unique from any other billet in the Coast Guard… only as a Company Commander do you turn a civilian, a ‘kid off the street’ into a functioning member of the military. The transformation recruits make from getting off the bus to graduation day is extraordinary. You see the personal change in each recruit, the pride they feel and eagerness they have to begin their service for their country. To see that, to be the reason for it, in-and-of itself is a wonderful feeling. I cannot explain the pride and gratification; it is only something that you have to experience for yourself… I look forward to training the next group of dedicated Guardians who want to take on this challenge!”
As she celebrated her thirteenth Coast Guard anniversary yesterday she noted that her career is far from over. “So far I’ve had a great career and I can only imagine it will get better.”
The TRACEN is always looking for a good representation of Guardians illustrating a diverse cross section of different rates, ranks, genders and ethnicity’s to become CC’s. Click here to find out what it takes to become a CC. Or read Articles 4.E.2.a and 4.E.8 of COMDINST M1000.6, Coast Guard Personnel Manual.
Need more motivation? How about the fact you build an amazing resume of experience and training. By the completion of a tour as a CC, you will have become a qualified Coast Guard Instructor, your personal fitness and professional appearance is exceptionally high, and you have hundreds, if not thousands of junior personnel in the fleet who consider you a mentor.