Muskegon Coastie wins prestigious award

The U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday that a Coast Guardsman in Muskegon, Mich., is the winner of a prestigious annual engineering award for superior performance, exceptional technical skills and exemplary leadership during 2010.

Photo of Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Slattery

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Slattery is the winner of the 2010 Fireman 1st Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineering Award. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Slattery of Coast Guard Station/Aids to Navigation Team Muskegon won the 2010 Fireman 1st Class Paul Clark Boat Forces Engineering Award.

Although Slattery is a junior member of the engineering department at Station Muskegon, his superb leadership, technical abilities, and devotion to duty inspired his supervisors to assign him as the assistant engineering petty officer, a title normally given to someone of higher rank.

“Petty Officer Slattery is an extremely flexible engineer whose maturity allows him to confidently make correct and spontaneous decisions related to the ever-changing operational demands of STANT Muskegon,” said Chief Petty Officer Brian Houts, officer-in-charge of Station/Aids to Navigation Team Muskegon. “He is continually busy, however, he is never too busy to explain operational procedures and equipment to new or less qualified personnel. Though a junior member, he is a pace-setter – the person others look to for leadership and guidance both professionally and personally.”

Slattery’s efforts were crucial in enabling the unit to maintain the highest state of readiness and operational effectiveness for both search and rescue and aids-to-navigation missions along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline.

The award’s namesake, Fireman 1st Class Paul Clark, was honored with the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving as engineer of a landing boat during an assault on and occupation of French Morocco in 1942. When a hostile aircraft strafed his boat with machinegun fire, mortally wounding the bowman and severely injuring the coxswain, Clark quickly assumed control of the craft and immediately withdrew from the beach. He sped to an offshore ship, placed the wounded men aboard, and, although his craft was riddled with enemy gunfire, courageously returned to his station at the beach and completed his boat’s mission.

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