Master Cutterman of the Harry Claiborne

D8 LogoStory by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Benson

NEW ORLEANS – It’s your birthday; you’re hanging out with your family and friends. There are candles, birthday cake and presents. Relaxing right? Chief Warrant Officer Paul Zado’s first birthday underway as a Coast Guardsman was a little different.

He was a petty officer hanging on for his life inside the Coast Guard Cutter Planetree’s galley as 20-foot waves tossed the 180-foot long cutter. Plates flew from the dishwasher, scattering like a flock of seagulls. He couldn’t even hear his own voice over the bellowing storm.

That 21st birthday underway set the tone for Zado’s sea service career. Since then, he’s served more than 20 years of sea time on 11 Coast Guard cutters and currently serves as the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne.

Chief Warrant Officer Paul Zado, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne accepts a gift from Seaman Kolten Moffatt, Feb. 3, 2014. The Master Cutterman certificate is presented to Coast Guardsman with 20 or more years of sea going service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Benson.

Chief Warrant Officer Paul Zado, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne accepts a gift from Seaman Kolten Moffatt, Feb. 3, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Benson.

Zado is the 39th Coast Guardsman to earn the title of Master Cutterman and has zero plans to stop his seagoing career.

“I’ve currently served on 11 cutters. I hope I get to a dozen and then a baker’s dozen,” said Zado.

Zado, doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone who sailed for the majority of his life. He doesn’t exude an unapproachable quality whose sole purpose is to rule the seas with an iron fist. No, the way to describe Zado is a family man on and off his beloved boat.
Working on the cutters, you start building your Coast Guard family, but Zado took that a step further by marrying his first boatswain’s daughter. A young Zado followed proper Coast Guard protocols and put in a request to marry his wife. He still proudly has the request to this day.

“I’m not so sure if I was set up or she was set up,” said Zado. “I do know that, without my wife this would not be possible; she has been the greatest support system anyone could ask for.”

His wife moved with zero complaints to almost every corner of the United States. Zado has served in Texas, Rhode Island, California, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina and Oregon.

“I have sailed almost every body of water that the Coast Guard protects,” said Zado. “The only one I believe I missed was the Great Lakes.”

With so much time underway, Zado made a list of things that will keep you afloat and moving forward with your career in the Coast Guard.
1. Show up to work on time and ready to go.
2. Put in an honest day’s work.
3. Come in to work with a shave and a good looking uniform.
4. Stay out of trouble.
5. Do what you are told.

Taking the next step and going beyond that list is what separates the average Coast Guardsman, and a superstar sailor.

Lots of people do a lot of verbal leading, but Zado believes the best way to lead is by example. Master Chief Petty Officer Ron Inget, a former crewmember on the Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne, recounted this story:

“During dry-dock 2012 in Tampa, Fla., Mr. Zado had several improvement projects he wanted to complete within the cabin. As always, an availability is a busy time for the crew. Instead of adding his cabin projects to the crew’s work list or using the limited ship’s funds, he took it upon himself to complete all the projects. Every morning he led by example. He put on his coveralls and got dirty just like the rest of the crew. He took ownership of the cabin and completed all the cabin projects himself. Mr. Zado’s actions made a statement to the crew that he was not going to expect things from the crew that he wasn’t willing to do himself.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Harry Claiborne is stationed in Galveston, Texas. The 24-person crew tended 145 buoys in 2013 and serves in Texas and Louisiana waters.

It is currently docked in New Orleans undergoing maintenance until the Lundi Gras festivities. During Lundi Gras they will provide transportation to Rex and Zulu for the Mardi Gras celebration.

Zado left this parting advice to all Coast Guardsman, “Always shoot for the highest goals possible, and put in an honest days work.”

Click the photo for more pictures from the ceremony.

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