Coast Guard Names Enlisted Person of the Year

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard has named a crewmember of the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory as its 2007 active duty Enlisted Person of the Year.

Christopher O. Hutto, of Woodruff, S.C., a Machinery Technician 2nd Class, has been named the Enlisted Person of the Year by Admiral Thad Allen, the commandant U.S. Coast Guard.

Hutto said, he was a little overwhelmed and surprised about receiving the Coast Guard District 17 Enlisted Person of the Year award and didn’t even think about the chances of being named the EPOY for the entire Coast Guard.

“It is an unbelievable feeling to be recognized in this way,” said Hutto.

The Enlisted Person of the Year (EPOY) program is designed to recognize enlisted persons in the workforce in pay grades E-2 through E-6. Nominees must reflect the spirit of pride, professionalism, dedication and must embody the Coast Guard Core Values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. The community service provided by the nominees should enhance the lives of others inside and outside of the Coast Guard. All activities pertaining to the EPOY program should occur during the calendar year of the award presentation.

Hutto has been in the Coast Guard for almost 10 years. “In the Coast Guard, regardless of your job you are working toward a greater good,” said Hutto about why he enjoys being in the Coast Guard. He said the smaller crew aboard the cutter Hickory creates a family atmosphere which makes all the hard work worth it.

The only real challenge Hutto says he feels in the Coast Guard is finding and maintaining a healthy balance between work and family. Hutto said he tries to deal with this issue by including families and communities in Coast Guard activities.

Hutto’s family, wife Andrea, daughter Sydney and sons Joshua and Ethan are in Alaska with him.

He says he welcomes challenges that come about in the workplace whether they are qualifications, training, personnel issues or unexpected workloads. “Challenges help keep me fresh and mentally active,” said Hutto.

The Hickory is homeported in Homer, one of 16 225-foot ocean going buoy tender with a crew of 40 enlisted members and seven officers. Its missions include aids- to -navigation, search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection and homeland security.

Aids-to-navigation is the primary mission and most of the aids that the crew of the Hickory is responsible for reside around the Kenai Peninsula.

Hutto has many responsibilities aboard the Hickory, which include maintaining stocked inventory, purchasing and receiving, maintenance tracking, ensuring proper training is being completed, small boat engineer, training petty officer, and qualifying the crew as riggers and crane operators on the buoy deck.

The crew of the Hickory considers themselves part of the Homer community. Hutto and his fellow shipmates serve the community they work in by other means than just being in the Coast Guard. “I have always wanted to take things a step further,” said Hutto about serving the community.

Some of the things Petty Officer Hutto has done in his community include being a mentor in the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters program, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club’s local chapter in Homer, teaching boating safety classes, organizing fund raisers including collecting over 2,500 pounds of food for the Homer Community Food Pantry, organizing a beach cleanup in Nikolski, voluntarily repaired the town’s only emergency vehicle, coordinated and hosted hundreds of youth aboard the Hickory for the Halloween event and other shipboard tours.

Hutto was previously honored as District 17 Coast Guardsman of the year at a ceremony held February 22 in Anchorage. Hutto, as the District 17 EPOY, was then chosen as the Coast Guardsman of the year over the other eight Coast Guard district’s enlisted persons of the year.

The Alaska awards dinner was hosted by the YMCA of Anchorage and was attended by Alaska Senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski and General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.

Petty Officer Hutto is scheduled to be recognized in Washington D.C. the week of June 9th. Hutto will be meritoriously advanced to Machinery Technician First Class at the ceremony.

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