Recruiting Liaison Helped Gain New USCG Member
by U.S. Coast Guard Kathy Murray, MyCG
January 22, 2023
At the end of his November 2022
graduation from Cape May, Seaman Jackson Midgett leaned over to
a classmate and whispered, “Can you believe we made it?”
Midgett’s acknowledgement that he might have failed would
likely have surprised many in the audience. Looking proud and
fit in his blue dress uniform, he was as much a Coast Guardsman
as anyone in his company.
But Master Chief Petty
Turbett, who sat clapping in a row near the front, understood.
Mostly because he’d stepped in to help the young seaman. He did
it as part of a new recruiting program the Coast Guard
introduced this past July. One of 135 recruiting liaisons around
the country, Turbett was supposed to coordinate with his unit to
assist in area recruiting.
Scene left - Seaman Jackson Midgett (second from right), celebrates his boot camp graduation with Master Chief Petty Officer Aaron Turbett (second from left)
on November 18, 2022. in Cape May, New Jersey. Scene
right - As a recruiting liaison Turbett found a way to help Midgett realize his dream of joining the Coast Guard. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard
How he did this – by
personally training Midgett to pass the running fitness standard
– and how such actions might be replicated around the country,
is what has recruiters like Chief Petty Officer Walter Morey
“This is a prime example of how using liaisons
can help with caretaking of current recruits and keeping members
engaged,” said Morey who started working with Midgett a year
ago. “It doesn’t have to be some big, complicated thing. I think
we’ll see more of this and it’s going to come back two-fold.”
Here’s the story of how a determined recruit and a
seasoned member of the service worked together to build the
Coast Guard of the future.
Morey first met Jackson Midgett when the young man was a high school
senior in Camden, North Carolina. A varsity football player,
Midgett had already decided college wasn’t for him. Like a lot
of people from his hometown, he figured he’d either get a
civilian job across the river at Coast Guard base or try his
luck at the Naval Shipyard an hour away in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Morey felt the service might be a better option for
Midgett and the two worked together to see if he qualified. He
did, but after graduation, Midgett opted to take a contracting
job with the Coast Guard instead.
Midgett was soon
assembling wire sets for H-65 helicopters. At $24 an hour, the
money wasn’t bad, and he liked his coworkers. Though he did
worry about job security when the contract ended. And as the
months passed, he says, “more ‘blue suiters’ started asking me
when I was going to go all the way and enlist.” Listening to
their stories, he admits, had him thinking about it.
“Then one day it just clicked,” Midgett said. “I woke up and
thought, I want to join the Coast Guard. It seems exciting, and
the kind of work I’d rather do. So, I got in touch with the
Morey got him a reservation for boot camp in
August 2022 and guaranteed electrician’s mate (EM) A-school. Now
Midgett just needed to see how close he was to the fitness
requirements: running a mile and a half in 12:51 minutes, doing
29 push-ups and 38 sit-ups (each in 60 seconds). As a former
football player, Midgett felt confident about the strength work,
but knew “running was going to be a problem.” He began working
out on his own after work. But when he drove up to Portsmouth
for his midsummer physical fitness (PT) tests, he didn’t come
close to the running time he needed.
A New Plan
cancelled the boot camp reservation. “There was no point,” he
said. “If Jackson couldn’t get that time down, he’d be kicked
out of boot camp after two weeks. I didn’t want to risk it.”
Midgett was also disappointed, but he understood. “I knew
Chief Morey was looking out for my best interests,” he said.
Morey told him boot camp could be rescheduled. He suggested
Midgett attend workout sessions held twice a week up at
Portsmouth. These helped past recruits get in shape. But this
turned out to be a non-starter for Midgett, who worked from 6:45
a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He
couldn’t be in two places at once and heading there after work
would add on an hour to an hour and a half drive each way. “I
said respectfully, I want to be there,” Midgett said. “But I
have a job and I need to support myself.”
reluctant to lose a good recruit who was otherwise qualified.
So, he reached out to Turbett, a liaison at the Elizabeth City
station, to see if he had any ideas.
Turbett has 22
years as an avionics electrical technician under his belt,
including stints on the commandant’s flight crew. When Morey
contacted him, he was midway through flight lessons and looking
towards retirement. But he knew that physical fitness was a big
issue today for recruits. He also hates traffic. So, he offered
to train Midgett at the Elizabeth City base after the recruit
got off work.
A Team Effort
When Midgett showed
up in the yard at Elizabeth City for his first work out, he
quickly learned Turbett wasn’t messing around. “This cat brought
me on a three-mile run,” Midgett said. “I thought my feet were
going to fall off.”
They ran four days a week together
for the next two months. Turbett says he tried to mix things up
between running and working out on base and in the neighborhood.
“We’d be running, and I’d say, ‘okay, stop and do 10 pushups,”
Turbett said. “I was trying to show Jackson what boot camp would
Midgett remembers Turbett yelling at him to
keep up. While he tried to keep pace, the master chief would
order him to recite the phonetic alphabet or his chain of
command. One time, Turbett brought in a diver and after a mile
and a half run had them pull a sleigh.
running Midgett through the fitness test. His running times were
getting better. In the final weeks, they got to a point where
Midgett was consistently hitting 12 minutes. This wasn’t just
good enough to start bootcamp, it exceeded the standard to pass.
Turbett told him to take a few days off, and he’d see him at
Midgett got through boot camp, but almost
didn't recognize his former training partner when Turbett showed
up at Cape May Nov. 18. “I just saw this giant walking towards
me decked out in a uniform,” Midgett said. “My first thought was
that I was in trouble.”
Then Turbett congratulated him
and started joking.
“He told me I should come back to
the base,” Midgett said. “He said he needed to run with me again
so he could get back in shape.”
That may have to wait.
Midgett is currently stationed at a small boat station in St.
Clair Shores, Michigan with one of his pals from boot camp.
He’ll be there until he gets into A-school where he hopes to
follow in Turbett’s footsteps and become an avionics electrician
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