USCG maritime enforcement officer Palmer receives enlisted honor

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010

United States Coast Guard Maritime Enforcement Specialist Third Class Jonathan Palmer was selected Juneau Area Enlisted Person of the Quarter last week by senior Coast Guard chiefs for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.

"It is nice to be recognized for doing what you love to do," Palmer said. "That people notice make the long hours worth it on both a personal level and professional level."

Prior to this selection, Palmer received the USCG Sector Proper and the Sector Wide enlisted persons awards. The three recognitions include all Juneau sector, division, and area units including outlying cutters and qualifies Palmer for Enlisted Person of the Year throughout the Coast Guard.

Called "Cuffs" by his peers, Palmer oversees anything and everything dealing with maritime law enforcement including training and physical tests for both his division and outlying units, boardings of recreational and commercial vessels, research and investigations, and ordnance supervision.

"I am also a Cub Scout leader," Palmer said proudly. "I just really enjoy Juneau."

"Palmer has fervently accepted responsibilities normally reserved for higher pay-grade and exceeded expectations for all phases of (the) sector's law enforcement operations." said Capt. Melissa Bert, commander of Sector Juneau.

"He is a great shipmate at work and in the community. He is very well-regarded by our port partners too," she said.

Born and raised in Montana, Palmer saw a coast Guard law enforcement ad on television and enlisted, attending boot camp at Cape May, N.J.

He was first posted in the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard in Washington, D.C.

"Standing still and not moving," Palmer laughed. "And making sure you look good doing it. I became an expert shoe shiner and at ironing."

In reality, his functions included wreath laying at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, military funerals nationwide, and arrival ceremonies for foreign dignitaries.

"I also remember three hours in the 100-degree heat on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base," Palmer said. "Waiting for (President Bill) Clinton, he was fashionably late."

Next stationed at Small Boat Station Philadelphia in 2002, Palmer had his first boarding while on the Delaware River.

"I felt like I had arrived," Palmer laughed. "We made four or five boardings. I was on a high the whole way back up the Delaware."

When Palmer's four-year enlistment was up, he continued his education and graduated from Montana Tech and worked in the Butte Silver Bow Detention Center.

"But I missed the job and the camaraderie," Palmer said of the coast guard. "Probably the paycheck and health insurance too but mostly being around such a good group of individuals."

In 2009 he re-enlisted as a Gunner's Mate in Yorktown, Va., and chose his first posting.

"I always wanted to come to Alaska," Palmer said. "I told all my classmates that the Juneau posting was mine. I like the water and I was born near the Rocky Mountains. My hometown has the same population. Alaska has the best of both worlds, the mountains come right down to the ocean."

Palmer arrived in Juneau in August 2009 with his wife Jodi and son Danny.

"Everything has been pretty cool," Palmer said. "Even the behind the scenes stuff. I have been able to see a lot of Southeast. Every day I enjoy going to work. I just really like this job and the people I meet through it."

His duties have taken him from Ketchikan to Skagway and Kodiak's North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center.

"Fish school," Palmer said. "I was surprised to learn just how much work goes into a boarding. Even all the behind the scenes stuff is interesting though. And I have never been sea sick, I look at it like a carnival ride."

Palmer also received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for superior duties in the Response Department of coast Guard Station Juneau from May to August 2010. Palmer's career goal is to be in Investigative Services, the detectives of the Coast Guard.

"They get to grow facial hair and don't wear their uniforms as much," Palmer quipped.

Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at

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