Coast Guard Petty Officer named Guantanamo Junior Enlisted Trooper of the Year

Story by Army Sgt. Sarah Stannard
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – Everyone stops to talk to Petty Officer 3rd Class William Holcomb as they walk by. Lately, he finds it difficult to to break away from his desk, even as he’s trying to make his way outside several people stop to greet him. Walking from the parking lot to the complex of Coast Guard trailers, Master Chief Roger Holland, 308th Port Security Unit, imitates the other Coasties offering his ‘good mornings’ and pats Holcomb on the shoulder.

“Ever since he was named Junior Enlisted Trooper of the Year he makes us call him Junior Enlisted Trooper of the Year,” Holland grins toward Holcomb. “How are you today, Junior Enlisted Trooper of the Year?” Holcomb smiles sheepishly out of the corner of his mouth and turns his eyes upward, clearly embarrassed by his chief’s good-natured ribbing.

Holcomb, a yeoman with the 308th Port Security Unit, was named the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Junior Enlisted Trooper of the Year last month for his dedication to his administrative responsibilities, his willingness to go beyond the parameters of his specific job – taking on several collateral duties – and his involvement in unit recreational activities, which help to boost the overall morale of his unit.

“I often rely on Petty Officer Holcomb when I need a crewman to get underway on short notice,” Holland explained, boasting about Holcomb’s supplementary job qualifications. “He’s always there when I need him. His crewman qualification was not a requirement of his rate, but it was a thing he accomplished because he knew it would be useful during this deployment.”

Part of the Coast Guard Reserve, the 308th has been deployed here to provide anti-terrorism force protection for the harbor and shore-side facilities for Joint Task Force Guantanamo in support of the Global War on Terror. They also have been tasked to provide safe, fast, and efficient transport for distinguished visitors here.

Holcomb, who in his civilian career assists people in processing disability claims for the Social Security Administration, believes his job, and the mission of his unit, plays an integral part of both the naval station and JTF missions.

A native of Northern Louisiana, Holcomb’s easy southern drawl is only compounded by his layed-back attitude – making him a quintessential Bayou State illustration of Southern courtesy. He is a self proclaimed outdoorsman whose passion for fishing, like his dedication to his work, leads him to invest 100 percent into his endeavors, only further evidenced by his recent three-foot Tarpon catch in the Guantanamo River.

“I get outside as much as I can,” said Holcomb, his zeal becoming much more visible. “We’ve had our share of issues here, just like any other deployed unit. But, keeping busy with things I like helps the time go easier.”

Holcomb joined the Coast Guard nearly three years ago, and at 36 years old he was looking simply to serve his country. Reluctant to ‘toot his own horn’ or even to really speak about himself, Holcomb believes his success on this, his first deployment, can be directly attributed to his fellow Coast Guardsmen in the 308th. “This is a really good group of guys,” Holcomb explained. “We’re a large unit and we’re away from our home base, but the people make it a lot easier for us to do the job we came here to do.”

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