Written by Chief Warrant Officer Allyson E.T. Conroy
Every unit has a couple of people who stand out. Who make things happen. Who take charge. They are the example for a crew of 168 people of how to be successful. The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman’s executive officer, Cmdr. Jerome Dubay calls these people “broadcasters.” He says he has a number of broadcasters on his crew, and they make cutter life that much more enjoyable. He looks to these people for mission accomplishment as well as inspiration throughout the ranks.
“These people shine, you can’t help but take notice of them,” Dubay said. “I like to think I know as much as possible about all of my crew, but there are a couple of crewmembers who really make me proud to serve.”
One of these people Dubay talks about is Seaman Kristine Kearny. She stands about five feet tall, short brown hair, a soft voice when you talk one-on-one with her. But when she takes a situation in hand, the command of her voice calls for attention. People listen to her; her supervisors take note.
Kearny says she has always been the type of person who does what she can to give back and help those in need. Joining the military was a natural course to her life.
“I joined the Coast Guard because I had a really strong urge to be a part of something bigger,” she says. “There’s something about the military that allows you to be a part of the bigger picture. I thought it would be a good fit.”
Growing up she and her family took part in an organization called “All from the heart” based out of her hometown of Temecula, California, that supports local military families in need. She also took part in missionary work in Mexico through her church in high school.
The 24-year-old took that upbringing and continued to serve others even as she moved an ocean away from her hometown. Prior to enlisting in the Coast Guard Kearny spent time in Hawaii as an EMT working with a fire department, again helping others in need. She says the fast-paced work environment of the ambulance and fire department helped prepare her for life aboard a 378, high endurance Coast Guard cutter.
Kearny reported to Sherman right out of basic training in February 2016. As with any unit in the service, members are expected to qualify in certain areas. An average seaman with a year’s experience on a cutter like Sherman should be qualified in helmsman lookout, damage controlman, and deck seamanship at the bare minimum. Kearny checked that box. And then moved on to the next qualification.
On any given day Sherman crewmembers spot Kearny in a number of different roles. As the cutter prepares for surface rescue swimmer drills, Jan. 12, 2017, it is no surprise that Kearny is on deck carrying the EMT bag. It’s really no surprise that she’s also dressed out and ready to assist her fellow surface rescue swimmers as they are lowered down into the water. When it is her turn to don the snorkel, mask and fins, she expertly swims 25 yards to the ship’s Oscar, takes him into a buddy tow to the small boat, and swims back to the cutter. Her shipmates tower over her petite form, but she holds her own in the water just as she does on deck.
On “quiet days” (read, when the cutter is not actively running a case), Sherman’s crew runs through one disaster scenario after another, Jan. 19, 2017. As the training environment is set, the casualty is piped; Kearny dresses out in the medical white jacket and once again takes charge. This time she leads the medical team during a helicopter crash on deck drill. She runs her team through the initial patient assessment of the simulated casualties. Her shipmates listen attentively and apply her knowledge.
Seamanship and medical expertise are only a couple of things that define who Kearny is.
At the end of a weekend at sea, and as the sun dips below the horizon, 10 shipmates meet on the gun deck awaiting yoga instruction. Lt. j.g. Darlene Sao welcomes everyone to class, and immediately turns instruction over to the young seaman. Kearny begins the music, and starts with the first pose. She guides the class through each movement, demonstrating the routine with grace and ease as the cutter rocks back and forth and the wind whips a couple of yoga mats around. The rest of the class members are challenged with balance or flexibility, and that’s when Kearny steps into action using her yoga certification.
Now the yoga instructor, Kearny moves through the class to each student assisting with the different poses and assisting stiff bodies to move deeper into the stretch. This is not a demure young seaman assisting her shipmates, but a seasoned yogi sharing her expertise.
“I feel there’s nothing she can’t do,” Sao said of Kearny. “She is reserved and quiet, and she’s involved with everything on the ship. Everything she does she gives her all. She is a great BMOW (boatswain’s mate of the watch), she’s great assisting Doc; she helps me with the yoga classes. She does all of these wonderful things and she’s only a seaman.”
Sao is not the only one who is impressed with the young woman’s enthusiasm and maturity level. Kearny was recognized as the ship’s Sailor of the Quarter, Jan. 12, 2017. Her certificate reading like a seasoned sailor’s resume.
“I was a bit embarrassed when I first heard my name called,” Kearny admits. “I’m not used to being in the spotlight. I like to take charge, push until things get done. I like being the person in the background who gets everything done and then go about my day. I’m very grateful that people feel I deserve being Sailor of the Quarter.”
The Coast Guard is run by a set of core values: Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. Every Coast Guard member strives to live by those values every day. Honor is being true to yourself. Respect, being true to your shipmates. Devotion to duty, being true to the Service. Seaman Kristine Kearny doesn’t strive to meet these values; she lives by them in everything she does on and off duty, every day.