Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Chief Warrant Officer John Leaming, Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City


Chief Warrant Officer Leaming accepts the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Financial Officer Award for Exemplary Service as a Supervisor.

Proficiency is a goal that has been identified by Adm. Bob Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard, as being critical to the success of the service. Proficiency is not a new concept for our service, though. The Coast Guard has a proud tradition of proficiency as a multi-mission service, enforcing laws and treaties as well as executing complicated search-and rescue missions. Proficiency ensures efficient mission execution, reduced stress and higher morale.

Chief Warrant Officer John Leaming is a shipmate whose dedication to proficiency has improved the life of those he interacts with both on and off duty.

Leaming, a native of Maine, reported to Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City in the summer of 2010 after a successful tour as supply officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. Ready to reprise his role as supply officer at the air station, Leaming hit the ground running and immediately began making positive and tangible impacts to his new unit.

A superior financial planner, Leaming dove right into the role of contracting officer and comptroller of the air station, smoothly and efficiently supervising the supply shop of four storekeepers, as well as a team of 10 food service specialists who run one of the most highly acclaimed galleys in the 9th Coast Guard District. The positive impact he has on his unit does not stop there — Leaming  educates and mentors his subordinates and ensures an accurate inventory of aviation parts worth almost $5 million.

Leaming is not one to just sit in his office and keep the books. Always looking for ways to improve unit readiness, he was critical to the success of several projects with both unit and Coast Guard-wide impact. He and his dedicated team of storekeepers spearheaded the contract for a commercial training vessel for aviation personnel, increasing unit aviation proficiency 40% by significantly increasing the number of helicopter/boat hoist training evolutions.

Leaming, posing for a photograph as Northwestern University mascot “Willie the Wildcat” promotes the Coast Guard to the public.

“John is a superior officer whose sound decision-making and leadership have contributed invaluably to the success of this unit,” said Cmdr. Joe Buzzella, Air Station Traverse City’s commanding officer.

Leaming takes the quality of life for his shipmates seriously. Always ready to execute at a moment’s notice, Air Station Traverse City’s Supply Department processed $81,000 worth of procurement requests at the end of fiscal year 2012, purchasing many quality of life and base infrastructure enhancements that will benefit unit personnel for years to come.

Leaming’s outgoing, gregarious and entertaining personality cannot be constrained only to his role as supply officer. Finding ways to contribute in other areas, Leaming is a boost to morale and a model of Coast Guard pride.  During off-duty hours, he can often be found at a local food charity, helping community members in need. He might also be seen cracking jokes while playing volleyball with the Coast Guard team in a local league or demonstrating his prowess as a cutterman in a ‘rain gutter regatta.’

Prepare to set sail! CWO John Leaming volunteers his time to help local children with their ‘rain gutter regatta.’

Witnesses have said the gait and mannerisms of the Easter Bunny at the local spouses club resembled those of Leaming. Most notably, his performance as “Willie the Wildcat” during a flyover of a Northwestern University football game in Chicago was witnessed by 40,000 people, giving a sense of the fun-loving yet professional Coast Guardsman that is John Leaming.

“John is a leader to be emulated, both personally and professionally,” said Lt. Jason Blyth, who works with Leaming in the Supply Department.

Leaming is a humble soul who does what he does because he loves it. His contributions are invaluable to Air Station Traverse City and the Coast Guard, and they have not gone unnoticed. He was recently awarded the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Financial Officer Award for Exemplary Service as a Supervisor — a job well done and a fine achievement for a very deserving shipmate!

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