Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Yaw
For many, the first word to come to mind when they think about a Coast Guard chief petty officer is usually leadership.
Certainly other words, such as wise and experienced, may crop up first from time to time, but leadership is never too far in the distance.
Like the chiefs that came before, Chief Petty Officer Timothy Soboleski, a reserve electrician’s mate stationed at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, Michigan, carries on the chief’s strong tradition of enlisted leadership.
In April 2016, Soboleski was recognized for his leadership when he was awarded the 2015 Master Chief Angela M. McShan Inspirational Leadership Award – Reserves.
The award, established by the commandant shortly after McShan’s death in 2000, annually recognizes one active duty and one reserve chief petty officer, who best exemplifies the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
“I absolutely appreciate the award and am humbled by it,” said Soboleski. “But the credit goes to the people I work with. Without them I wouldn’t have been in a position to do that.”
Soboleski started his military career in the U.S. Marine Corps where he served for six years working on aviation electronics. After leaving the Marines, he continued his service with the U.S. Navy as a civil servant, working on early drone programs during the Persian Gulf War.
Fourteen years ago, Soboleski enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserves and has been going strong ever since.
Soboleski feels a leader has to enjoy what they are doing, and if not, they should go on to something else.
Soboleski said he really appreciates the support from his supervisors, Master Chief Petty Officer James Hines and Chief Petty Officer Jason Albert at Station Belle Isle, as well as the support from Capt. Scott Lemasters, Cmdr. Ray Negron and Chief Petty Officer Brad Clair at Coast Guard Sector Detroit.
“It made me realize that I’m lacking in putting other people in for awards,” Soboleski added. “ It does make a difference and the reserves don’t often get a ton of medals or recognition.”
He credits the hard work of those around him, both junior and senior, to making it very easy for him to succeed as a leader.
“With the right people, the system runs itself,” he said.
When all’s said and done though, Soboleski gives all the credit to those who work for him.
“Without a good crew, a leader can’t do their job.” he said.
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.