Written by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener
The Coast Guard has a rich history of outstanding leaders; men and women who have distinguished themselves by their actions and set them apart from their peers.
Aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, a 378-foot high endurance cutter homeported in Seattle, one high performing crewmember set herself apart from all others. Petty Officer 1st Class Jessica Worden, a food service specialist (FS), was recently honored with the Douglas A. Munro Award for Inspirational Leadership.
The award is presented to an enlisted member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and professional competence. Stellar candidates from across the Coast Guard compete against one another for the distinction. The award also means advancement to chief petty officer.
“Winning this award is the greatest honor I have ever received,” said Worden. “To have my name attached to a leadership award named after one of the greatest Coast Guardsmen in history is amazing. Knowing I was able to help out my unit, especially the FS division is more than I could hope for.”
Worden established herself as a leader amongst the crew, volunteering as a member of the ship’s leadership diversity advisory council, victim advocate, morale committee and as a landing signal officer for shipboard helicopter operations. Furthermore, when the senior chief petty officer in charge of the FS division departed unexpectedly mid-patrol, Worden stepped in to fill the position.
“You get 60 plus days underway and knowing it’s 30 more until you see your family, food is either a morale boost or killer,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jason Perry, the support division officer aboard Midgett. “FS1 Worden hit the ground running and was able to fill the position leading the galley. She truly sets the example as a hard worker and motivated others to think about what’s next.”
Using input from the Midgett’s crew, Worden created and implemented a healthy menu while underway. She also organized a short-reception aboard the ship for members of the Mexican and Canadian navies while in a port call. The very next day she was performing community service at an orphanage.
“From morale cooking nights to trivia on the messdeck and community service in port calls, if there was anything underway to boost morale or help people, you can bet FS1 Worden either ran it or was heavily involved,” said Perry.
After returning from her last patrol aboard Midgett, Worden made the decision to leave active duty and take a position in the Coast Guard Reserve with Port Security 313 in Everett, Washington. As she transitions into the next stage of her career, her spirits are high and optimistic.
“I told myself when I joined the Coast Guard that I would say yes to any challenge set before me and it’s led me to experiences I couldn’t even dream of before,” said Worden. “I know I probably made some mistakes along the way, but at the end of the day I know I did my best to look out for those around me and stay true to the hear of our core values.”
The Inspirational Leadership Awards are sponsored by the Coast Guard’s Office of Leadership and serve to recognize those Coast Guard men and women who demonstrate proficiency in leadership and best exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values of values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.