Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: BM3 Brad Houston, Station Calumet Harbor

 It takes a leader to overcome the challenges and obstacles presented by one of the busiest stations in the 9th Coast Guard District. Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad Houston is one of these leaders, taking on well more than his share of the roles and responsibilities required to safely and effectively carry out the many missions at Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, in Chicago.

Houston mooring Station Calumet Harbor's 25' Response Boat-Small.

Houston mooring Station Calumet Harbor’s 25-foot Response Boat-Small.

Since reporting aboard in 2012, Houston has qualified as a coxswain for the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium and the 25-foot Response Boat-Small, boarding team member and tactical crewmember. During the busy summer months of 2012, those qualifications were greatly needed to help stand up the busy Station(small) Chicago, located in downtown Chicago. There, he worked alongside the Chicago Police Marine Unit and Chicago Fire Department boats conducting more than 15 search-and-rescue cases and 100 recreational safety boardings to ensure the safety of the boating public along the shores of Lake Michigan.

On Aug. 6, 2012, the water taxi vessel Lila lost power and collided with a pier in the Chicago River, resulting in nine injured passengers. Houston and his crew responded and assisted Chicago Fire and EMS by quickly setting up a safety zone around the vessel, ensuring scene safety as EMS transported passengers off the boat.

Houston provides ice rescue training to the crew at Station Calumet Harbor in February 2013

Houston provides ice rescue training to the crew at Station Calumet Harbor in February 2013

As a tactical crewmember, Houston’s qualifications have been invaluable — such as when he was involved in the enforcement of numerous security zones for the protection of the president of the during his visits to Chicago and while conducting countless maritime safety response operation security patrols protecting the third largest city in the U.S.  “Houston sets an outstanding example on a daily basis while standing duty at Station Calumet Harbor through his positive attitude towards work lists, training and his own professional development,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Carlo Patrizio, also assigned to the station. “He has definitely exceeded what is expected of him as a third class petty officer. He is willing, ready and able to take on any challenge he faces with little or no guidance needed and serves as a role model for all junior members of the crew. He is a pleasure to work with and his ‘can do’ work ethic contributes greatly to completing the missions at Station Calumet Harbor.”

This “can do” positive attitude is recognized by all, especially those junior members who look to him for help on their qualifications and advancements.  As a mentor to junior members, he has been instrumental in assisting in the qualification of 9 communication watch standers, 9 boat crewmembers and five boarding team members.

Many of the smallboat stations within the 9th District have the unique duty of providing ice rescue services during the winter months.  The need for designated ice rescue trainers is imperative to safely train Coast Guard members who may be unfamiliar with this duty. Always an advocate for his shipmates’ safety, Houston selflessly volunteered to fill that role by attending training at the Coast Guard’s Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence at Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Mich., in 2012.

Off duty, Houston is an avid snowboarder. Here, he poses for a photo during a vacation trip to Tahoe.

Off duty, Houston is an avid snowboarder. Here, he poses for a photo during a vacation trip to Tahoe.


The knowledge and skills he brought back from the school has greatly enhanced Station Calumet Harbor’s ice rescue program. Through the training Houston conducted both on and off the ice, Station Calumet Harbor has seen an increase in the number of qualified ice rescue crew members over the winters of 2012 and 2013.

This can do attitude and dedication to train his fellow crew members allowed the station to shift from a port and starboard duty schedule to a one in three rotation enabling crews to commute less during the hazardous winter driving months while allowing them additional time at home with family and loved ones.

“Houston’s drive, hard work and close attention to detail resonates throughout the deck department as well as the entire unit,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Christian Osborne.  “Whether it’s training and mentoring the newest member at the station or educating and informing the boating public on the water, his professionalism and character is a model for all to follow.” 

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