Each and every day, Coast Guard men and women go above and beyond the call of duty. This is what makes the Coast Guard what it is – an exemplary maritime service always ready to answer calls for help.
Some of these Coast Guard men and women stand out above the rest. They not only achieve mission excellence, they demand it. They not only dedicate their time to the service, they dedicate their lives. They not only sit comfortably where they are in the rank structure, they continually strive to become more.
Such is the case with Petty Officer 2nd Class Giacomo Terrizzi, a marine science technician currently assigned to Coast Guard Sector San Diego who was recently selected as Sector San Diego’s Enlisted Person of the Year, the Enlisted Person of the Year for the entire 11th Coast Guard District and, subsequently, the Coast Guard-wide Enlisted Person of the Year.
Like many Coast Guard men and women, Terrizzi didn’t start with dreams of joining the Coast Guard. After high school, he went on to graduate college in 2007. It was his mother that first suggested he talk to a Coast Guard recruiter. From there, he subsequently headed to Training Center Cape May in 2009.
Terrizzi said his mother suggested the Coast Guard over the other branches as she thought they didn’t deploy and he would stay stateside for the entirety of his career.
It was at his first unit that he learned about marine science technician rating. While his cutter was in drydock, he spent time at a nearby sector and became interested in the vessel inspection and investigation side of the Coast Guard.
But in 2011, after serving aboard Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, Terrizzi submitted a package to be considered for Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Bahrain. He was accepted and was assigned overseas to Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell, an experience he said is “unforgettable.”
Once he retuned and graduated from marine science technician “A” school, he received his assignment to Coast Guard Sector San Diego, where he began to thrive as both a marine science technician and a Coast Guard petty officer.
At Sector San Diego, Terrizzi led his division in the unexpected absence of both his supervisors. Only a Petty Officer 3rd Class at the time, Terrizzi liaised directly with the division chief to coordinate more than 75 marine events with little to no supervision. He accomplished all this while continuing to develop himself professionally, earning qualifications normally reserved for senior petty officers and volunteering his time to attend courses that would improve his own knowledge and benefit the unit as a whole.
Terrizzi also led Sector San Diego’s color guard in 38 events, led two 24-member softball teams in a U.S. Navy softball league and consistently volunteered for community events.
Aside from representing his unit, Terrizzi also focuses on continuing to develop himself personally, maintaining a 4.0 GPA in an accelerated master’s degree program in organizational leadership, which he hopes will support his future plans to attend Officer Candidate School.
Because of his efforts, he was recognized as the Sector San Diego Enlisted Person of the Year. As a result of this, he was automatically up for the running as Enlisted Person of the Year for the entire 11th Coast Guard District. And much to his dismay, he won.
“It was totally unexpected,” he said.
An even more unexpected call came the Monday following that award ceremony. That call came from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell, informing Terrizzi that he had been selected as the Coast Guard-wide Enlisted Person of the Year – Active Component.
“I thought he was calling me to tell me congratulations for winning the district award,” Terrizzi said.
Each year, Coast Guard men and women are recognized for their efforts through the Enlisted Petty Officer of the Year program. Each unit in the Coast Guard submits a nomination to the district level, and those who are recognized at the district level are considered for the Enlisted Petty Officer of the Year for the entire Coast Guard.
This year, that honor went to Terrizzi. In a ceremony in Washington, D.C, Terrizzi joined the Enlisted Petty Officer of the Year – Reserve Component, and was formally recognized by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Cantrell.
During the ceremony, Terrizzi was meritoriously advanced to Petty Officer 2nd Class.
“To think about how many people are in the Coast Guard and all the great things that they do on a daily basis, it’s just absolutely mind-boggling to be able to represent that,” Terrizzi said. “I am deeply humbled and truly honored.”