Editor’s note: This instructor profile is part of a series profiling some of the best instructors within the FORCECOM enterprise. Force Readiness Command will be featuring outstanding instructors regularly who go above and beyond to help shape the future of the Coast Guard. Senior Chief Bou is currently an assessor with FORCECOM’s Finance & Admin inspection team; previously, he served as a company commander at TRACEN Cape May.
Interview conducted by Lt. Heather Bacon-Shone
1. What made you decide to become a company commander?
As far back as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a Company Commander. I always wanted to help mold the future of the young men and women that volunteer to join the Coast Guard.
2. What do you find most motivating or rewarding in your role as a company commander?
I love instructing and mentoring, so it was a great fit for me. What was most rewarding and motivating was watching a person who might have been scared, felt lost, maybe even questioning their decision to join the Coast Guard mature into a Coastie in eight short weeks. On a personal level, the challenge of seeing if I could actually be successful at such a highly visible and challenging job was appealing to me.
3. What are some of the lessons you have learned from the recruits?
I was a little older than your typical Company Commander. So, I learned from the recruits that there are significant differences between my generation and theirs. What more seasoned veterans might see as weakness or character flaws, I learned to see as different, new ways of thinking, problem solving and teamwork. In a nutshell, I learned that these recruits want to perform and to do a good job. The Coast Guard will be fine with the next generation.
4. How did the tour as a company commander help you in your career?
It helped me re-learn the self discipline, time management and focus that we preached so much to the recruits. I was even able to successfully compete and advance to SKCS while being out of rate.
5. Share a memorable anecdote or “sea story” from your time as a company commander…or, describe the most significant challenge you overcame as a company commander.
Company Commanders are usually asked to participate as judges in JROTC events in Seaford, Delaware. These events are pretty significant in the community. One year, I was asked to conduct uniform inspections and the cadets were really impressed with the entire event. I could tell they were a little nervous but wanted the full C.C. treatment, so I had a little bit of fun inspecting their uniforms and quizzing them on required knowledge. After the inspections, I conducted a mini “out brief” with each of the high school teams, which inspired some of the cadets to join the Coast Guard.
6. Describe some new or innovative methods or equipment you used as a company commander.
In general, we use “tried and true” military methods of instruction for Close Order Drill, standing watch, etc. However, in the classroom, we have access to web-based lesson plans, sorted by week, which made the logistics of setting up classes a lot better.
7. When you were a company commander, how did you keep current, teaching recruits the most up-to-date information and skills they will need?
Company Commanders are required to keep current in the latest curriculum available. We achieve this mainly through refresher training. The chain of command also does a good job keeping the C.C. Corps informed of changes.
8. Were there specific experiences, skills, or knowledge you found particularly helpful in your tour as a company commander?
Prior to my C.C. tour, I was in charge of the Honor Guard in Milwaukee. We did everything from providing a flag detail at military funerals, to marching in parades, to providing a Color Guard during sporting events. Since Close Order Drill is such a big part of recruit training, I found it very helpful to have had the prior experience from my time in Milwaukee.
9. What would you say to someone who is considering a tour as a company commander?
I would advise anybody coming to C.C. school the same way I would advise a potential recruit. I would say come prepared to be challenged, prepare yourself physically, and keep your eyes on the goal.
10. Who do you think would make a great company commander? What would you say to encourage them to pursue assignment to a company commander billet?
A great Company Commander is someone who is willing and actually able to give what they would demand of the recruits, someone who enjoys coaching and mentoring. Someone that is driven and can work with large group of people with a certain degree of autonomy. Clock-punchers need not apply!
Go for it! If you think you are the right person and this seems like something you want to do, then submit a package to Special Assignments. The rewards are immeasurable and you won’t regret it.