Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: BM3 Jesus Velarde, Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Velarde, a Los Angeles-native, joined the Coast Guard in February 2008.  After successful tours at Maritime Safety and Security Team 91109 and the Coast Guard Cutter Munro, he reported to his current duty assignment, Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., in July 2012.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Velarde, a boatswain's mate at Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., previously served at a number of units including Maritime Safety and Security Team 91109, homeported in San Diego. Velarde stands with one of the MSST's small boats after returning from a deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Kraft.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Velarde, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., previously served at a number of units including Maritime Safety and Security Team 91109, homeported in San Diego. Velarde stands with one of the MSST’s small boats after returning from a deployment.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Kraft.

Velarde quickly made the transition to life at a Coast Guard small boat station assuming several crucial roles at the station including command intelligence officer and assistant rescue and survival petty officer. 

As the assistant to the rescue and survival petty officer, Velarde’s flexibility and work ethic has proven invaluable in the complete overhaul of the unit’s rescue and survival program.  As a result of his dedication and acute attention to detail, Station Wilmette Harbor’s rescue and survival program has successfully passed two ready for operations compliance inspections as well as a standardization inspection, which yielded an outstanding score of 9 out of a possible 10 points.

With limited experience in the Coast Guard’s ice rescue mission, he spent countless hours training and has become the resident expert on the policies, procedures and equipment required for the ice rescue mission.

Besides his role as the station’s ice rescue resident expert, Velarde also excels at executing the station’s law enforcement mission.  Each year the station recognizes a top law enforcement officer, dubbing that person the unit’s “Law Dawg.”  This award highlights the member that displays outstanding initiative towards the completion of the unit’s law enforcement goals. After accomplishing 110 boardings, Velarde was the recipient of the award for 2013.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Velarde, a boatswain's mate at Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., stands on the ice during ice rescue training. station. Velarde is the unit's subject matter expert in ice rescue procedures.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Kraft.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jesus Velarde, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., stands on the ice during ice rescue training. station.
Velarde is the unit’s subject matter expert in ice rescue procedures.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Kraft.

When not involved in law enforcement vessel boardings, he trains and mentors his shipmates, challenging other junior personnel to excel as they train and obtain certifications.

In addition to his responsibilities as a Coast Guard petty officer, Velarde takes great pride in giving back to his community.  Off duty, he regularly volunteers at a local organization that raises money to help disabled veterans get back on their feet and lead successful lives outside of the military.  Additionally, Velarde volunteers at the local fire department and at the local Special Olympics. 

Velarde’s dedication and sincere passion for duty shines through on a daily basis and his positive attitude is contagious within the unit.  He is a true role model for other junior members to look up to.

“As an office- in-charge, it is rare and a blessing to have someone this young and so dedicated to their duties,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Rob Devoy, the station’s officer-in-charge.

Velarde states that he plans to serve for at least a 20 years and that he enjoys working with the junior members of the Coast Guard.  

“The mission is rewarding and so important but teaching junior members is what I really enjoy,” said Velarde.

“The ability to motivate members through energetic and knowledgeable training is what is most rewarding. They are the future.  They’re the ones that will keep this great organization going and without them there will be no success.” 

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