A Port Angeles-based Coast Guard petty officer was recognized Monday as the 2019 active duty Enlisted Person of the Year (EPOY) for the Coast Guard during a modified ceremony in Port Angeles.
Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Schink, an independent health services technician aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Active, was recognized as the 2019 active duty Coast Guard’s Enlisted Person of the Year and meritoriously advanced to Chief Petty Officer during a modified ceremony held aboard Active while in port.
The 2019 Coast Guard Enlisted Persons of the Year banquet was scheduled for May, where Schink would have been formally recognized and meritoriously advanced, but the banquet was postponed until the fall due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
“Chief Schink is an all-around, top-notch role model,” said Cmdr. James O’Mara, Active’s commanding officer. “Seeing his selection as 2019 Enlisted Person of the Year from amongst the thousands of hard working Coasties across our nation – it is hard to capture just how unbelievably rare this moment actually is. Then you combine that unique honor along with advancement to Chief Petty Officer and stepping into the senior enlisted leadership ranks – this is something our whole unit and the entire service can be very proud of.”
Designed to recognize active duty and reserve enlisted persons from pay grades E-2 through E-6, the EPOY program aims to reflect the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty in its nominees. All submissions are released to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, who, through a selection panel, submits recommendations to the commandant of the Coast Guard for final selection approval.
Schink provided healthcare and managed medical readiness for a crew of 75 Coast Guardsmen. He became one of the first Federal Aviation Administration licensed unmanned aircraft system pilots on a medium endurance cutter. He developed best practices for flight procedures, cutter evolutions and missions, which helped establish the Coast Guard’s UAS program. Maximizing training opportunities, Schink dedicated his time training shipmates in pursuit of damage control, davit operator and in-port officer-of-the-day qualifications. Schink volunteers his time with Partnership in Education, coordinating medical training for students and coaching kids in a local wrestling program. He’s also volunteered on behalf of the Jerusalem Baptist Mission, including spending time in Haiti.
Before earning the national EPOY title, Schink was awarded a Coast Guard commendation medal and the Coast Guard District 13’s nomination for EPOY. Schink competed with more than 3,000 Coast Guard members from units in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana at the District 13 dinner and awards ceremony held at Coast Guard Base Seattle in February.
“You are an ambassador for the men and women who serve our armed forces and what America expects from them,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, during a phone call to Schink in March, informing him he was selected as the EPOY. “We are proud of you, shipmate.”
Deployed since early April, Active returned home to Port Angeles May 26, following a counterdrug patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The crew interdicted a suspected smuggling vessel during the patrol, seizing more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $37 million wholesale.
Active is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter commissioned in 1966 and homeported in Port Angeles. Active’s crew routinely operate from the Straits of Juan de Fuca down to the waters off Central America. Active conducts nine of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions, including search and rescue, drug interdiction, fisheries enforcement and homeland security.
Schink is scheduled to transfer this summer to Coast Guard Air Station Detroit.