Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Barney
For every dramatic rescue, every major drug bust at sea, every vessel safety inspection and every pollution response operation carried out by Coast Guard men and women there are many more of their shipmates ashore making sure the response crews are trained, equipped, fed, paid, safe, healthy and prepared to accomplish the mission.
The support teams who make Coast Guard operations possible work tirelessly to keep aircraft, ships, boats, communications equipment and other gear ready to go have their work cut out for them. Once in a while, you run across someone who tackles all the demands of their primary job and also makes time to volunteer for even more duties the help others.
If you ever find yourself on Coast Guard Base Los Angeles-Long Beach for more than 10 minutes, chances are you will bump into Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Aviles and not just in his normal place of business in the base comptroller’s office. It’s easy to spot him, he is the one walking around with a smile on his face.
You might find him in the base Lighthouse training room leading an enlisted professional military education college study group or in the base warehouse delivering his comments as chair for the unified leadership diversity advisory council during a base event. Or, you just might see his face on a plaque for the 2018 Base Enlisted Person of the Year.
You would almost have to try not running into him where he greets you with a smile and possibly an update about an upcoming event; an event he is most likely coordinating.
“I feel younger doing all of this because I’m not slouching and waiting for something to do,” said Aviles.
In April, Aviles will earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Management and is already scheduled to start his master’s degree in August. He balances his workload and collateral duties by prioritizing and staying positive.
“If you see me today with so much on my plate, it’s because I can handle the pressure,” said Aviles. “If you are humble and persistent, the sky is the limit.”
The pressures of everyday life can feel overwhelming at times. An unexpected project at work with a tight deadline or an unexpected bill in the mail can throw anyone’s plans to the wayside. For Aviles, adapting to the unexpected and persevering is what separates success from failure.
Growing up in Virginia, Aviles was engrained at a young age with a go-getter work ethic. His mother, who worked two jobs, taught him early to seize the day and not to wait around for a better life. At the age of 15, his responsibilities at home, school and at work couldn’t slow him down. While his mom worked hard, Aviles took care of his younger sister, and during the harsh winter months, Aviles recalls walking through 13 inches of snow just to get to work.
“My mom is a workaholic, she is nonstop,” said Aviles. “Her mentality is to work hard and I got that drive mostly from her.”
People are often characterized as creatures of habit. Taking the same route to work or routinely skipping leg day at the gym becomes normal and normal is comfortable. Aviles’ comfort zone revolves around productivity. He maximizes his productivity by taking advantage of opportunities available to Coast Guardsmen so that he can become a valuable member of any team.
“I can make my dreams come true as long as I work hard and invest in different opportunities available to me,” said Aviles.
Learning the discipline of working hard had a strong impact on Aviles and his outlook on life. He understands the value of working hard despite what obstacles might be placed in front of him or the naysayers who might say he is an overachiever. As a father of three, he wants his children to learn that value not by telling them, but by showing them.
“Kids watch and learn from us 24/7,” said Aviles. “If they don’t see you going that extra mile, why should they be inclined to do so?”
On the odd chance you visit Coast Guard Base LA/LB and don’t run into Aviles, don’t feel like you missed out. You can also find him volunteering for the booster club at the Miraleste Intermediate School or at a local Bob Hope USO event supporting military members and their families. It’s easy to spot him, he is the one walking around with a smile on his face.