Greenlief advances to Senior Chief at USCG Station Juneau

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010

Wednesday, James Greenlief climbed to a rung of the United States Coast Guard's ladder of rank which only about two percent of Coast Guard enlisted personnel reach: the step of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

After he received his credentials of rank from Capt. Melissa Bert, commander of Sector Juneau, his wife Sandra and daughter Katrina pinned the insignia on his collar that evidenced his new E8 pay status. Another daughter, Tamara, phoned in well wishes from college.

"I'm proud of him," Sandra said. "I had always hoped it would go this far. It is his dream."

"It's really fun. I am happy we moved here," Katrina added. "I am really happy that he got his goals."

James Greenlief emerged from boot camp and began his career on the cutter Sedge, "the Workhorse of the Black Fleet." The Sedge, and Greenlief were stationed in Homer.

"My goal back then was to make chief boatswain's mate, do 20 years and retire," he said.

Greenlief set his sights on two things when he first enlisted: being a "surfman"' on all the motor lifeboats the Coast Guard had, and serving as the officer in charge of a station.

Surfmen drive the boats, and when Greenlief was stationed at Coos Bay, Ore., in 1989, he witnessed the thrill surfmen had and said he thought "that would be something I really would enjoy doing."

He became a surfman while in Coos Bay, and has been stationed at Florence, Charleston and Depot Bay, Ore., during his career, along with a stop in Morrow, Calif., to go along with his Alaska assignments.

Greenlief has been more than a surfman during his service. He's served as an officer in charge ashore, boarding officer, small arms instructor and the underway officer of the day. He's earned two Coast Guard Achievement medals, seven Good Conduct medals and a Commandant's Letter of Commendation. Greenlief also is considered an expert in both pistol and rifle shooting by the Coast Guard.

Greenlief said being a member of the Juneau Coast Guard crew has been a highlight of his career.

"I can't ask for a better crew, they are very knowledgeable, willing to do the job and are fun to be with. ... Then you have the beauty of the town," he said. "I love it here."

Greenlief said his new goals are 30 years of service, and to make the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer within five years. Such a promotion would put him at the top of the Coast Guard's pay scale for enlisted personnel.

"I hope I can finish my full billet here, then I don't know," he said. "I would like to be officer in charge at a motor lifeboat station on the Oregon coast."

Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at

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