Coast Guard TCCM Company Commander Leads By Example
by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney
October 6, 2021
When recruits arrive at Training Center Cape May (TCCM) to begin their journey into the Coast Guard, they’ve all undoubtedly tried to guess what their company commanders would be like.
Some might have envisioned a shadow of a person hidden under a black campaign cover, searching for the smallest mistakes they’d make. Others might have imagined a booming voice screaming at them as they endlessly do push-ups. But few have probably ever thought of who their company commander really is.
What are their goals and passions? What drove them to become a company commander in the first place?
At the Coast Guard’s only enlisted recruit training center in Cape May, New Jersey, one of the 54 company commanders on the regiment, Petty Officer 1st Class Cody Roberts, was recently selected as Company Commander of the Quarter on July 14, 2021, in front of the training division staff on the regiment.
When Roberts was called up in front of the crowd alongside the former company commander of the quarter, Petty Officer 1st Class Leo Cichosz, he said he didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t until the commanding officer of the base began reciting his award while Cichosz removed the green aiguillette on his shoulder to pin it onto Roberts’ that he fully comprehended what he had achieved.
“To be selected as company commander of the quarter was a very humbling and exciting moment for me,” said Roberts. “Here at Training Center Cape May, we are some of the most elite, hard charging Coast Guard men and women, and to be selected amongst my peers as the newest company commander of the quarter was unbelievable.”
Although Roberts had only been a company commander for a little over a year after graduating company commander school on June 19, 2020, it was no surprise that he was selected as company commander of the quarter so soon. Throughout his career, Roberts has stood out at his previous units evidenced by his quick promotion through his rate, and has even received the Sailor of the Quarter award at one of his past units.
“Historically, second and third year company commanders have been the recipients of the company commander of the quarter,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Randall Lawrence, the battalion commander at Training Center Cape May. “Roberts is the first company commander in some time to receive the award after a little over a year assigned here. Roberts has demonstrated the highest levels of initiative, adaptability, and many other qualities that we look for in our deck plate leaders. While serving as the lead company commander for the recruit motivation program, he was heavily relied upon by his section commander to effectively execute the program and manage the staff, further proving him deserving of the recognition.”
When Roberts decided he wanted to become a company commander, it was for the same reasons he chose to be a culinary specialist, which is his enlisted job in the Coast Guard. He wanted to have a direct impact on people's lives through the work he does every day.
Now, as a company commander, not only does his job let him make lasting impacts on every recruit he trains, but it also allows him to make an impact on the future of the Coast Guard.
Roberts said he teaches every recruit to always set a good example and tells them that all it takes is one bad egg to spoil a whole pot.
“By reporting to their first unit with superb uniform standards and presenting a professional military image, my recruits will set a high standard, even at the apprentice level in the Coast Guard,” said Roberts. “It doesn't matter how junior or senior you are at your unit, you can change anything.”
Roberts said to be a good company commander, people need to have a high amount of energy, a professional demeanor, and they must want it. They will have to make sacrifices to do their job right.
“You have to want to train and work in this environment, and sacrifice a lot of time and energy away from your family in order to train recruits and instill the Coast Guard’s core values into them,” said Roberts.
At the Coast Guard’s only enlisted recruit training center in Cape May, New Jersey, one of the 54 company commanders on the regiment, Petty Officer 1st Class Cody Roberts, leads recruit company D-201 through graduation ceremonies on October 1, 2021 at the base's parade field. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Tamargo)
After a long day of working on the regiment away from his family, Roberts goes home to his wife, his four-year-old daughter, and his two year old son. He attributes his success at work to being able to go home to his family at night. With all the sacrifice and effort he puts into his work towards training recruits, Roberts also makes sure to put that same devotion into spending time with his family.
“I try to go home and give them the same effort that I put into my job as a company commander, which is definitely demanding, but it's worth it in the end,” said Roberts.
He said they help him unwind and bring back his energy so he can keep putting effort into them and the recruits.
“Even when you're tired, I think there's something magical about your kids when you walk in the door and they're like ‘Daddy!’ and they come up and hug you. I think that helps bring the energy back out a little bit when you just worked a 14-to-16-hour shift,” said Roberts.
In addition to drawing motivation from his family, Roberts said he is also regularly motivated by some of his recruits while he inspires them toward success.
“There have been some recruits that come from pretty hard and less fortunate upbringings like homelessness,” said Roberts. “They tell their stories about coming here and about how the Coast Guard has been such a blessing and opportunity for them. Seeing these recruits go through the obstacles that we throw at them and make it to graduation is inspiring to me. They’re just so grateful to have a home with new brothers and sisters in the Coast Guard. I think it's humbling and it’s super exciting to see that they’ve made it this far.”
Going forward in his career, Roberts hopes to continue training the next generation of the Coast Guard. Whether that be here at Training Center Cape May or out in the fleet, Roberts said he will continue to strive toward making a positive impact on people in any way he can.
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