Air Station Elizabeth City member receives Douglas A. Munro Inspirational Leadership Award

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Lee Forsblom, an aviation maintenance technician at Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, gets pinned by his two children during his meritorious advancement from Petty Officer 1st Class at the Naval Sea Services Award Luncheon in Norfolk, Virginia, June 20, 2019. As a result of his outstanding leadership and professional competence, Chief Forsblom was the recipient of the 2019 Douglas A. Munroe Award for Inspirational Leadership, which was presented to him by Vice Adm. Scott Buschman, the Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Shannon Kearney)

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Lee Forsblom,  gets pinned by his two children during his meritorious advancement from Petty Officer 1st Class at the Naval Sea Services Award Luncheon in Norfolk, Virginia, June 20, 2019. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Shannon Kearney)

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Katharine Lipe

Hard work, technical expertise but also a thoughtful consideration for the people he works with led an aviation maintenance technician from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to be the recipient of the 2019 Douglas A. Munro Award for Inspirational Leadership.

On June 20, Petty Officer 1st Class Lee C. Forsblom was recognized as the Coast Guard enlisted member who epitomized outstanding leadership and professional competence in 2018. Along with his award, Petty Officer Forsblom also received meritorious advancement to Chief Petty Officer.

“I’m pretty humbled and honored,” says Forsblom. “I’m not a big flashy awards guy. I just feel that we have a job, and we go out and do it. And when you do get recognized for it, that’s awesome. And this is pretty amazing, it’s a very humbling experience.”

Forsblom’s modesty belies his accomplishments and their results. His management of air assets at Air Station Elizabeth City supported close to 2,000 flight hours across the spectrum of Coast Guard missions, including 167 successful search and rescue missions that saved more than 140 lives.

During the Coast Guard response to Hurricane Florence, he led aircraft maintenance on seven MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters, which supported 289 flight hours and 338 missions that ultimately saved or assisted 284 lives.

Though Forsblom shies away from the limelight, his roll-up-your-sleeves attitude is what accomplishes the Air Station’s mission and simultaneously motivates those he works with to do the same.

“I just like to lead by example,” says Forsblom. “If there’s a job that needs to get done, I want the members that work for me to know that I would do that job as well.”

Forsblom’s commitment to the next generation of aviation maintenance technicians is evident in the effort he puts into training and mentoring his subordinates. As the Chair of the Enlisted Flight Examining Board, Forsblom has qualified four flight mechanics and five basic aircrew members.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Mize is among those who have benefited from Forsblom’s expertise and how he shared it.

“When you come here, they expect you to get basic aircrew qualified within five months,” said Mize. “So as a junior mechanic, when you first hop in here and you see this helicopter, it’s kind of like, ‘Holy cow, that’s a lot going on.’ It’s not like working on the old car in the back yard. And to have a guy like that really take his time, with patience, and give you his knowledge really helps.”

Forsblom is indeed smart. He is the MH-60T Night Shift Supervisor, MH-60T Flight Mechanic Examiner, Maintenance Resource Management Facilitator, and Quality Assurance Inspector, and he scored 100% on both the Flight Mechanic and Basic Aircrew tests. That doesn’t mean he takes himself too seriously, though.

When asked where his nickname “Bull” came from, he explained, “It started when one of the guys at the unit told me, ‘You look like the bailiff from [the television show] Night Court.’”

That combination of ability and personability are key ingredients to his success in leading people, as well as his competence as a maintenance supervisor.

“He’s well respected by everybody on the hangar deck, which is a hard thing to do,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Rick Williams, who nominated Forsblom for the award. “He’s not just everybody’s friend, he’s respected. And he’s respected because he’s knowledgeable and he cares about the people he works with, and everybody sees that.”

“Petty Officer Forsblom is the name I hear all the time, to the point we moved him to our night shift supervisor.” agreed Coast Guard Cmdr. Jerry Krywanczyk, “There’s a lot of stress and pressure. There’s a high expectation on our night shift to turn those planes around. At night, we do a bulk of our maintenance and we get them ready for the next day, and he has been doing great. He’s the go-to guy on that hangar deck. I think it’s just fitting that he gets this recognition.”

A native of Hankins, New York, Forsblom describes himself as just an easy-going, laid-back guy, and family man. “I have a wife, and two kids. They’re eight and eleven, and they are pretty much why I do everything that I do—it’s for them.”

Outside of work, Forsblom stays involved in his community as an active member of his church, New Begun Methodist in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He also volunteers during his free time as a youth baseball, softball and basketball coach.

Presented annually by the Navy League, the award is named for Douglas A. Munro, the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient, who gave his life while evacuating 500 Marines who were trapped on a beach at Guadalcanal during World War II.

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