Guardians of 2010: April

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Each week Coast Guard Compass honors members of the Coast Guard family as “ Guardian of the Week ” for their devotion to duty and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in April 2010.

BM2 Billy Poertner – April 2, 2010

Poertner gives a "thumbs up" to a boy injured in the earthquake. (Coast Guard photo by PA1 Adam Eggers)
Poertner gives a "thumbs up" to a boy injured in the earthquake. (Coast Guard photo)

It literally took months for all of the heroic stories of Coast Guard men and women responding to the massive response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January to come to light. One such story involved the evolution of a man who, over six years that must have seemed like a lifetime, was transformed into a leader.

“Poertner was a staunch advocate of the Haitian people and consistently reminded his shipmates of their needs and ways we could help them through this devastating event,” said Cmdr. Keith Johnson, commanding officer of Port Security Unit 307, where  Poertner serves.

Click here to read the story of a Marine-turned-Coast Guardsman and the young orphans that changed his life.

Lt. David Shook – April 9, 2010

Lt. David Shook lands on the tiny Tern Island amid mud and hundreds of birds that threaten to strand him and his crew in the path of a hurricane.  Click the photo to watch the incredible landing.  (Screen grab from USCG video)
Lt. David Shook lands on Tern Island in the path of hurricane Neki. Click the photo to watch the incredible landing. (Screen grab from USCG video)

As Hurricane Neki bore down on the remote Pacific island of Tern, Lt. David Shook and the crew of his C-130 rescue plane were the only hope for a group of Fish and Wildlife Service scientists manning a research station.

“The storm was moving in and they couldn’t get in their with their smaller planes,” said Lt. David Shook, a C-130 pilot from Air Station Barbers Point , Hawaii. “The Coast Guard was their last option.”

Click here to read more on this made-for-the-movies rescue case.

Lieutenant Chad Kauffman – April 16, 2010

Lieutenant Chad Kauffman (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Lieutenant Chad Kauffman (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Lt. Kauffman is quickly establishing himself as a leader among his fellow military attorneys for his work on sexual assault cases where he works to create a culture of officers and enlisted personnel who not only understand that sexual assault is a crime but who will not tolerate anything short of respect for their fellow shipmates.

“Lt. Kauffman embodies what we would like to see in all our JAGs – a sensitivity to the extremely controversial issue of sexual assault, and an understanding of the unique challenges presented by sexual assault cases in the legal arena,” said Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program manager Shawn Marie Wren.

Click here to read more about this courtroom champion.

LTjg La’Shanda Holmes – April 23, 2010

Lt. Jeanine Menze, the first female, black pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard places a set of wings on Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes. (U.S. Navy photo by Ens. Ryan Trespalacios)
Lt. Jeanine Menze, the first female, black pilot in the U.S. Coast Guard places a set of wings on Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes. (U.S. Navy photo by Ens. Ryan Trespalacios)

With the odds stacked against her at an early age, this Coastie battled adversity to become a Coast Guard officer. As the first African American female helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard, Lt. j.g. Holmes made history as she prepared for a career saving lives.

“I was used to people telling me what I couldn’t do. We moved around a lot, and I think it fueled my ambition to live better and work harder. It just gave me more motivation to succeed.” – Lt. j.g. La’Shanda Holmes.

Click here to read more about this outstanding role model for aspiring Coasties.

Seaman Derek Luman – April 30, 2010

MCPOCG Skip Bowen, SN Luman, LT Moyer and MCPOCGRF Jeffrey Smith.  (Coast Guard photo)
MCPOCG Skip Bowen, SN Luman, LT Moyer and MCPOCGRF Jeffrey Smith. (Coast Guard photo)

The War on Drugs is fought on multiple fronts. Seaman Luman has quickly made a name for himself fighting narco-terrorism at sea and drug abuse in the community.

Seaman Luman joined the KNIGHT ISLAND in August 2008 and quickly became a qualified Boarding Team Member and has conducted more than 25 high visibility boardings including four which were classified as major drug disruptions at sea. In addition to spending a rigorous 2000 hours at sea and away from home this past year, SeamanLuman selflessly volunteered on more than 40 different occasions during his sparse off-duty time at Key West’s Poinciana Elementary School. Through creative “question and answer” seminars highlighting the Coast Guard’s counter-drug mission, he ingeniously linked narco-interdiction efforts at sea to the end result of keeping drugs out of schools and out of children’s hands.

Click here to read more on this remarkable Coast Guardsman.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010! Come back tomorrow as we pay tribute to the Guardians of the Week for May 2010.

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