It is a rare moment when United States Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Troy Brevik relaxes.
His duties as an aviation maintenance technician, or flight mechanic, at Air Station Sitka usually mean he might be flying out at a moment’s notice to aid a sinking vessel, rescue a hiker form a mountain or touch up an issue on the Jayhawk helicopters.
So when station commanding officer Doug Cameron called Brevik at home and told him to call a number for Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Leavitt in Washington D.C., he said he feared the worst.
“My first thought was, ‘oh oh, what did I do?’” Brevik said, until Leavitt informed him of his selection as the Coast Guard’s Enlisted Person of the Year.
“My first words were ‘are you serious?’” he said. “I saved all the hollering and jumping up and down until I got off the phone.”
“I am still in awe,” Brevik said from Sitka on Wednesday after Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Robert Papp made the official announcement. “The best way to describe it is that none of it seems real.”
Born in Missoula, Mont., Brevik moved to Juneau at age four.
Growing up in Southeast, Brevik said he would eye the Coast Guard’s 95-foot Cape-class cutters Hatteras or Henlopen when his family skiffed through Gastineau Channel out to their cabin on Colt Island, or he would gaze at the thundering H3 helicopters that flew overhead from Sitka.
Upon graduation from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1989, Brevik began volunteer service at the Glacier Fire Station with Capital City Fire and Rescue, from where his father recently retired. That love of helping others steered him towards boot camp at Cape May, N.J. in 1992.
“I also ran out of money for college,” Brevik laughed. “I didn’t want to be 20 years old and living at home. I needed something to do and the Coast Guard seemed like a great four-year plan.”
That four-year plan became a career.
“The plan was to just get the GI Bill,” Brevik said. “But I liked it so much I stayed.”
From boot camp Brevik went to Station Neah Bay in Washington, machinist’s mate technical school in North Carolina, Air Station Sitka, Air Station Kodiak, Air Station Astoria (Ore.), back to Kodiak and finally back to Sitka.
“I have managed to stay in the Northwest and Alaska,” Brevik said. “The freedoms here that aren’t afforded to people elsewhere I enjoy here. Knowing I can comfortably send my kids out to play until the sun goes down, I love that… and the fishing and the hunting. Our entire family loves the outdoors.”
Continued Brevik, “This has been such a great career choice. I only have good to say about the Coast Guard in my life, it is a great opportunity for anybody looking to do something with their life.”
Brevik said one of his most memorable moments was a search And rescue case while stationed at Kodiak. His crew flew an aircraft 240 miles southwest of Adak, across the International Date Line, for a medevac off of a container ship, and back.
“We left tomorrow to come back today,” Brevik laughed. “It was like the equivalent of flying from Seattle to Houston and back.”
Brevik achievements include Coast Guard Commendation and Achievement Medals, a Commandant’s Letter of Commendation, a Meritorious Volunteer Medal and team awards.
Brevik is also a lieutenant and firefighter medic with the Sitka Fire Department.
Brevik has seen all parts of Alaska through his service; from the Aleutian Chain to the Southeast Panhandle, from Barrow, Prudhoe Bay, to Fairbanks, and all points in between and credits his wife Jennifer and children Nikole, Andrew and Megan as his anchors.
“I couldn’t do what I do without them,” Brevik said. “A lot of Coast Guard missions are search and rescues. We like to go out and help people. That bit of adrenaline drives us, that opportunity to go out and help somebody is satisfying, hands down that is the best part of the job… getting somebody up on the helicopter or sending a pump down to save their boat. Getting them home to their family members is amazing.”
Continued Brevik, “My wife is pretty amazing for the things she has to put up with, the last minute drops when I have a mission to somewhere. They have been behind me all the way.”
After mentioning a list of people in his career Brevik paused and said, “I could not have gotten to where I am today without the people I grew up with in the Coast Guard and the people in place when I came into aviation. Having good leadership in place throughout my career to learn from was priceless and they are phenomenal.”
On May 27, Brevik will be officially honored at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. along with Reserve Petty Officer of the Year William Hilt from Port Security Unit 312 in San Francisco.
Brevik’s honor will include a tour of the White House and the Capitol Building and results in an automatic advancement to Chief Petty Officer.
“It was obviously a goal to reach Chief,” Brevik said. “But getting it this way, I never envisioned this award at all, ever. Getting it is an extreme honor.”
In a press release from the Coast Guard, Papp said, “Petty Officer Brevik was the unit’s cornerstone during a year when Air Station Sitka overcame numerous challenges, including the transition of a new aircraft, an aeronautical engineering logistics inspection and a unit standardization evaluation. Time and time again, Petty Officer Brevik was the first to volunteer for the critical leadership roles. He aggressively sought positions on increased responsibility and leadership, making significant positive and long lasting impacts on the unit.”
The Enlisted Person of the Year award is for duties designated in that award year. Brevik was noted for leading 55 maintenance personnel through qualification plans in the transition to the new Jayhawk helicopter, supervising intensive training programs in the aviation department, presenting 40 hours of instruction to the fire department and responding to 67 fire calls and assisting on saving 70 lives, volunteering with Sitka Mountain Rescue and aiding in 35 search-and-rescues.
Brevik’s expertise enabled Air Station Sitka helicopters to fly more than 2,100 hours on 150 search-and-rescue missions. He flew on 15 of those missions, which resulted in five saved lives.
Brevik also was noted for exemplifying the core values of the Coast Guard when he volunteered to represent the family of Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Banks throughout funeral and memorial arrangements. Banks was one of the three Coast Guardsmen who perished in a crash in the waters off La Push, Wash. while transporting a new Jayhawk from New Jersey to Sitka.
“We all understand we might not return,” Brevik said. “But knowing that we are helping to rescue a family member or loved one is extremely rewarding. The Coast Guard prides itself on always being prepared and being ready and I am proud to be able to be a part of that.
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at email@example.com.