Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Elizabeth Bordelon.
Coast Guardsmen seem to stand out in the crowd whereever they go – especially our dedicated reserve members.
This holiday season, a handful of Coast Guard members are diligently working on preparations for the 57th Presidential Inauguration, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 21, 2013. Eight Coast Guardsmen, four active duty and four reserve members, are assigned to the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region. The task force, a joint service command located in Washington, D.C., is charged with coordinating military ceremonial support for the inauguration. By January, the task force will be responsible for coordinating the participation of more than 5,000 service members in inaugural events.
With still a month to go before the big event, one of the Coast Guard’s members is already stealing the show. Chief Petty Officer Rachel Washko, a reservist from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City, has recently been named the JTF-NCR Warrior of the Month. Washko was selected from a pool of nominees for her hard work, meticulous attention to detail and dedication to receive the award. Washko arrived at JTF-NCR in October and is currently serving as a special events project officer with the ceremonies and special events office.
“Our SEPO duties involve handling military band and ceremonial guard logistics at various events throughout the Inauguration period, including the opening ceremony, wreath laying ceremony, prayer service and various inaugural balls,” said Washko. “I have been assigned to the wreath laying ceremony by luck of the draw, and I am totally thrilled! It will be a tremendous honor to be a part of it.”
Washko has proven herself to be an invaluable and distinguished member of the 2013 special events team. With a staff consisting of 27, Washko has consistently been sought out by leaders and peers alike for her superb technical skill and occupational expertise.
“Chief Washko is a pleasure to work with,” said Marine Master Sgt. David Leon, a team leader. “She is a team player, always volunteering to ensure that every task is covered. She even took it upon herself to create a more efficient system for tracking appointments and leave for the staff. I never have to worry about the mission or any administrative task to which she is assigned.”
During her tenure thus far with the task force, Washko has created, maintained and updated a myriad of noteworthy administrative products for her division. Recall rosters, organizational charts, interactive spreadsheets that allow event tracking for personnel, detailed updates for command briefing sessions…Washko has had a busy couple of months.
“I can’t believe that the inauguration is a month away,” said Washko. “The past few months have flown by. I’m having a blast and am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of the whole evolution.”
Military involvement in presidential inaugurations dates back to 1789, when George Washington began his inaugural journey from Mount Vernon, Va., to New York City with local militias joining his procession as it passed through towns along the way. Fast forward a couple hundred years. Military support now consists of musical units, marching bands, color guards, salute batteries and honor cordons. This tradition of military participation has grown into one of the largest public celebrations of democracy in the world.
Planning for an event of this magnitude begins months in advance. However, there is only so much that can be done before Election Day. From Election Day to Inauguration Day, the task force has a mere 76 days to pull everything together. Days are long and the job is demanding, but the work couldn’t be more fulfilling.
“I am always energized by the chance to put on my uniform and it has been great getting to know the CSEO team” said Washko. “My experience so far has been very fulfilling and the best is yet to come.”