Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Steenson
As you walk through the passageways, mess deck and wardroom of Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, you will see nicely framed photos of the cutter, crew, operations and training that look like they came from a recruiting poster or an art gallery – they came from neither. Petty Officer 3rd Class Dale Arnould, an operations specialist stationed aboard the Alex Haley from 2012 to 2015 is the man behind the camera in each of the photos.
In Arnould’s three years on the Alex Haley, his primary focus was his job as an operations specialist by preparing and delivering daily operations briefs, locating vessels for fisheries inspections, assisting in the coordination of search and rescue cases and acting as a command security clerk reviewing security clearance submissions. He also went above and beyond the expectations of his daily job by wielding multiple collateral duties including telling the Coast Guard story.
“Arnould’s enthusiasm to seek out story-telling opportunities not only enabled him to take photos of the crew at work, but his photos greatly contributed to the exceptional morale of those teams,” said Ens. Joel Hill, the public affairs officer aboard the Alex Haley. “His photos have been featured on the Coast Guard 17th District website and social media pages, but on a more personal level, his photos were instrumental in keeping families in touch with their deployed sailors.”
Arnould served as the unit’s assistant public affairs officer with the responsibilities of producing and distributing news releases and photos, publishing photos for the Coast Guard’s archives, maintaining a social media presence and organizing community relations activities. Arnould excelled at all of the above and also created and put together the Alex Haley’s newsletter, The Bulldog, to keep family and friends connected to their loved ones while underway. The Bulldog is a bi-weekly newsletter with photos, messages and updates of the crew that has received recognition throughout the service.
With no formal background in writing or photography, Arnould used his knack for creativity and an artistic eye and took the initiative to self-educate to improve his proficiency on the technical side of the craft.
“I’ve always been interested in both writing and photography and made an effort to educate myself,” said Arnould. “While the writing came natural, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about camera mechanics and photo composition over the years.”
His initiative to learn and excel paid off; it was an integral part in the Alex Haley earning the 2014 Commander Jim Simpson Award, an award given to a unit for their overall public affairs program. The Alex Haley earned it for their captivating photography, The Bulldog newsletter, their pro-active stance on sending out news releases, community relations with local villages around Alaska and social media presence.
“He was responsible for a significant part of the imagery produced and the written work submitted that earned Alex Haley the Commander Jim Simpson Award and earned himself the Alex Haley award,” said Hill.
Arnould earned first place in 2014 for the Chief Journalist Alex Haley Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Coast Guard Public Affairs, which recognizes the achievement of an individual not assigned to full-time public affairs assignment for their efforts and published works that have helped raise the visibility of the Coast Guard.
“From hanging out of helicopters to being drenched in small boats, I’ve been allowed great liberties to record epic moments of the Coast Guard’s Alaskan story,” said Arnould.
Arnould’s passion for visual arts and storytelling, and his dedication to continue excelling in his craft drives him to further pursue his ambition to be a filmmaker. He is planning to attend film school in France this fall and considers applying to Officer Candidate School after earning a bachelor’s degree.
“I’d regret it the rest of my life if I didn’t try for this dream I have,” said Arnould.
The Alex Haley’s exemplary public affairs program is a reflection of the amount of time outside of normal work hours and overall commitment Arnould devoted to his collateral duty. His work displays the power of a photograph as it shines the light on the Alex Haley crew carrying out Alaska’s Coast Guard missions with the utmost honor, respect and devotion to duty.
“Using the foundation that Arnould established, the Alex Haley crew looks forward to having a continued record of excellence in public affairs,” said Hill.