Why I Serve: Petty Officer Gets the Respect He Deserves
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 17, 2004 "This is what I wanted to do when I came into the service," he says. "I like being a mechanic and I like being around the water," claims Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Forrest.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Forrest is the main
propulsion chief on board the Coast Guard cutter Tampa, based at Portsmouth,
Va. He is mainly responsible for the massive twin diesel engines that thrust
the vessel and provide its electrical power. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That makes for a winning combination. Forrest said he grew up working on cars in his yard on weekends in the small fishing town of Poquoson, Va.
Forrest may not have earned much respect playing on a losing high school football team there, but he's gotten lots of it with the team he's on now.
On board the Coast Guard cutter Tampa based at Portsmouth Va., Forrest is the ship's main propulsion chief. He is mainly responsible for the massive twin diesel engines that thrust the vessel and provide its electrical power.
"If we are not doing our jobs, it leaves basically everybody in the dark," Forrest says. "Then the Coast Guard has a ship that can't do its job. So it's important that we keep everything running."
And that is where Forrest has gained respect. "We have the best main propulsion chief in the Coast Guard," said Coast Guard Ensign Cara Blasko, an intern on board the vessel.
Words like those give Forrest a sense of admiration, a feeling that's kept him in the service for 17 years.
However, much of the respect he's earned comes from those who work for him the small team of young machinery technicians who will do whatever's needed to keep the 270-foot vessel moving forward.
The "junior members," as he calls them, often look up to him for training, mentoring and support. "I have to train them to take my place one day -- teach them things that I've done wrong, and the things that I've done right, to help them become better people," he said. "All I can do it try to be a good leader and teach them by example."
Forrest also said what he enjoys about serving in the Coast Guard is helping people. And he credits his wife, of 15 years, and his children for allowing him to serve.
"Thank God, they're understanding," he says. "You can't do it without them."