The Coast Guard is unique among America’s military services. As a multi-mission organization responsible for everything from search and rescue, to coastal homeland security, to environmental protection of the nation’s waterways, Coast Guard personnel must be always ready to perform any of these missions at a moment’s notice.
Perhaps no Coast Guardsman better embodies this multi-mission capability than Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole Emmons. As a marine science technician at Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles, La., Emmons investigates pollution cases, monitors pollution cleanups and enforces pollution safety laws. Emmons has also taken the initiative to become a facility inspector, boarding officer and enforcement-training officer. But it was Emmons ingenuity in developing programs from the ground up and her eagerness in helping others that really stood out.
“[Emmons] has taken on tasks that may seem enormous or overwhelming to some, but she sees it through no matter what it takes,” said Brandi McClain, a supervisor at Marine Safety Detachment Victoria, Texas, who took notice of Emmons’ exceptional service.
One of the tasks Emmons saw through was when she played an integral role in standing-up her unit’s Homeland Security and Enforcement Branch, which helped enhance her unit’s law enforcement expertise. Emmons organized extensive training, coordinated qualification boards and provided hands-on tactical classes to ensure her shipmates were mission ready.
“The best part of having Emmons on the team is her openness and willingness to take on any assignment, knowing that she will engage every team member and bring the group together to reach our goal,” said Chief Petty Officer Christopher Ellison, chief of incident management and planning at Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles. “She eagerly accepted responsibility and excelled when faced with challenging tasks.”
As over 7,000 Coast Guard personnel throughout the U.S. deployed to help along the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles crewmembers found themselves in the heart of the action. During this time, Emmons led a division at the Grand Chenier Forward Operating Base as they conducted numerous pollution investigation-training classes to the influx of personnel, most of whom had no previous pollution response experience.
“I find great joy in helping others, whether it is in the community or my shipmates at work,” said Emmons. “It’s very important that you take the time to give back to your community.”
From being involved in the creation of her unit’s Moving Assistance Team to help minimize the financial burden of her fellow shipmates, to taking the role as her unit’s secretary of the morale committee, or being the founder of the Compass program to promote community outreach, Emmons has time and again proven that she’s willing to go above and beyond to help others.
“I love serving my country and being a part of the Coast Guard,” said Emmons, who was recently named Military Times 2011 Coast Guardsman of the Year. “So being named Coast Guardsman of the Year was the highest compliment I could have received.”