Coast Guard Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Stanek, Sector Detroit

cropped lcdrFor Lt. Cmdr. Gerald D. Stanek, dedication and professionalism are second nature. So when it came time to nominate candidates for the 2014 Capt. John G. Witherspoon Inspirational Leadership Award, Stanek was an obvious choice who went on to win the coveted award.

Capt. Witherspoon has been described as a man who commanded respect and led by his own honorable example. He served as a quartermaster in the enlisted ranks, before graduating with honors from Officer Candidate School in 1971. In 1982 he became the second African-American officer to command a Coast Guard cutter when he took command of the Mallow. Each year an active duty and reserve officer are chosen for the leadership award named in his honor.

Stanek, a reservist who worked for the prevention department and the reserve readiness staff at Sector Detroit at the time of his nomination, also volunteered to take on the duties of acting senior reserve officer. He handled the increased workload skillfully as he mentored the sector’s reservists and strengthened the coordination and support offered by the staff of the sector’s Reserve Force Readiness System, according to Lt. Cmdr. Scott Smith, who worked on Stanek’s nomination.

His approach to the Coast Guard is a study in devotion to duty. For one thing, Smith said, Stanek embodies both exceptional capability and great humility – two character traits that don’t always go together. The married father of a 16-year-old daughter, Stanek has always worked closely with both officers and enlisted personnel to help them develop their skills.

stanek heloDuring his time as the reserve prevention department head, for example, he partnered with the maritime industry and helped develop a groundbreaking in-house training program that helped reservists, active duty members, and auxiliarists obtain more than 20 qualifications. He also put together a reserve-only exercise that helped 20 reservists attain position-based qualifications.

After taking on the additional responsibilities of acting senior reserve officer, Stanek’s approach to the job included participating in weekly conference calls with the sector’s senior enlisted reserve advisors and improving the means of measuring reserve readiness. He also co-authored Sector Detroit’s original reserve program management instruction. The efforts resulted in Sector Detroit earning the District Commander’s Trophy for Reserve Readiness, and helped the district earn its third consecutive Admiral Russell R. Waesche Award, reflecting the preparedness of the district’s reservists.

Overall, Stanek said, his philosophy is simple.

“Always put forth your best efforts, never settling for mediocre results,” he said. “At the end of the day, you will positively reflect on you achievements.

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