Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Judy L. Silverstein.
He has a reserved demeanor, but he’s also intensely committed. Chief Petty Officer Jack Hancock of Air Station Clearwater has a keen eye for the big picture, but remains focused on the details too. That bodes well for the Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos mission, where he serves as the maintenance chief; a job requiring a blend of patience, flexibility, problem-solving skills and knowledge.
The job, says his supervisor, Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Kellison, requires painstaking clarity, attention to detail and intense dedication. What Kellison says sets Hancock apart, is his unbridled respect for the Coast Guard’s core values and for his shipmates.
“In every aspect, he’s a steady, reliable, go-to person,” says Kellison. “If I can’t be there, I know the operation is in excellent hands.”
On a recent December morning, where the thermometer read an unusual 27 degrees Fahrenheit in Clearwater, Fla., Hancock helped load an HC-130 Hercules airplane with gear and equipment, working in the trenches, alongside his crew.
A 22-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Hancock’s job is a 24/7 commitment that involves managing helicopter maintenance and unpredictable challenges, all while calculating logistics to keep operations humming along. Some days, he has a phone in each ear, fielding the logistics involved in moving nearly two dozen crewmembers deploying to three separate Coast Guard sites on Andros Island, Great Inagua and Providenciales, in Turks and Caicos. He shrugs it off, far more comfortable figuring out a replacement fuel line for the operation.
From coordinating two hurricane evacuations in 2011, to being one of only a select few chief petty officers entrusted with maintenance release authority, Hancock, is no stranger to long hours and demanding work. From parts to personnel, he tackles one challenge after another, remaining steady through it all.
Commitment, integrity and honesty are adjectives colleagues use to describe Hancock. Although managing personnel and assets can be anything but mundane, Hancock seems to thrive on the challenge. He sets high standards, and he also follows them, colleagues say.
“He really leads by example,” says Kellison.
Hancock is also known for helping friends with home improvement projects and a fierce dedication to community projects. In the past, he has organized a group of chief petty officers to visit a local veterans hospital. While he enjoys listening to patients and sharing some laughter, it’s showing respect to veterans that seems to ignite his inspiration.
Like many of his shipmates at the air station, he also feels a sense of duty to the 122 children living in Matthew Town, Great Inagua. For more than three decades, the air station has been collecting holiday gifts, books and toys for the children, whom Hancock points out, have so little. He says giving back to the community where Coasties work two-week deployments – nearly 950 miles from Clearwater – is vitally important.
Arriving on Great Inagua to help solve that fuel line issue, he sheds his coat and gloves, as the temperature is an ironic 27 degrees Celsius, in the 80s. This sharp change from the icy temperatures on both the plane and back in Clearwater doesn’t phase Hancock one bit. He’s far more interested in helping get the equipment unloaded. When his work is done, he pauses to greet two airport workers warmly, listening intently to their thoughts.
And that is the quintessential Hancock. He treats people – of all ranks, gender and backgrounds – with deep respect. It’s his personal credo. The recognition of something larger than himself is also why, like many before him, he stepped up to help coordinate the holiday gift drive, without being asked.
Back in November, he began soliciting donations, colleagues say. On a handful of mornings, Hancock and his dedicated crew stood at the front gate to the air station before sunrise, collecting donations from shipmates. By December, nearly 500 pounds of toys, books and sporting gear had been collected. Timing delivery of the crammed bins with normal flight schedules, Hancock filled available space on regularly scheduled flights.
“Our goal,” he says, “was to work within an established schedule and still bring some cheer to the children of Matthew Town.”
It’s a thought that makes him smile. But he’s quick to deflect attention to his crew and his Clearwater colleagues.
“This is what we do,” he said, “We all feel it’s important to give back to the community where we live and work.” He emphasizes the word all.
There’s no question Hancock, a consummate professional, will be surprised, and even a bit irritated about being recognized. But as one who leads by example, coordinating cargoes of cheer for others, it seemed only fitting to pay tribute.
And with that, one can almost hear him saying, “C’mon now, let’s get back to work.”