Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn.
Coast Guard men and women remain “always ready” to maintain a constant presence on America’s coasts and waterways enabling fast, flexible responses to maritime emergencies. To meet the demands of having Coast Guard boats and planes ready requires highly-skilled engineers who maintain a fleet of resources, enabling them to launch at a moment’s notice to help save lives or property.
One of the Coast Guard’s many skilled engineers is Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Coaker from Station Oak Island in Oak Island, N.C. Coaker ensures his unit is prepared for anything, and his performance in his duties was recently highlighted as he was the recipient of the Fireman 1st Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineering Award.
“His work ethic is contagious, always the first to volunteer and his fellow shipmates look up to him,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Newman Cantrell, the officer-in-charge at Oak Island. “He is one who is always available to the unit whether a boat needs repair, a watch needs to be stood or an event is going on.”
During 2011 Coaker accumulated more than 300 underway hours conducting search and rescue cases, enforcing safety regulations and participating in numerous ports, waterways and coastal security escorts.
While he performs at the highest level for every mission, one particular case exemplified his dedication to duty. Coaker was a crewmember responding to a report of a fishing vessel sinking. When the response boat arrived on scene Coaker volunteered to go aboard the vessel and assess the situation.
Coaker used his damage control expertise to quickly effect makeshift repairs. He then worked tirelessly for six hours to keep two pumps running as they dewatered the vessel. The result of his effort, actions and knowledge ultimately saved the fisherman and $140,000 in property by saving the fishing vessel itself.
The intent of the Fireman First Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineer Award is to recognize exemplary boat forces engineers. And while Coaker is an excellent engineer, he’s an equally as excellent shipmate.
Coaker is committed to developing his shipmates and making sure they are ready to meet the challenges of their duties. He pursued certification as a CPR and first aid instructor which he used to train and qualify 38 first responders, allowing them to be better prepared to save lives while on response cases.
“I have always felt that any job worth doing deserves a 100 percent of my effort as my mother and father instilled a strong work ethic in me as a child so I cannot imagine being any other way,” said Coaker. “I want to leave this unit better than when I arrived and would like to show my fellow shipmates that hard work and team work are what makes our unit work so well. I am honored to be working alongside these people and will leave here with many longtime friends.”