Five Menemsha Coasties ascend in rank

Island station outpaces others when it comes to advancements.

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Bottom, left to right: Chief Robert Parent, Petty Officer 2nd Class Leanna McKenna, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Belladue, Senior Chief Justin Longval. Top: Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Von Dessonneck, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joel Behr, Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Smith. — Rich Saltzberg

Senior Chief Justin Longval, commander of Station Menemsha, and senior Chief Robert Parent, executive officer of the station, advanced five petty officers in rank Wednesday morning before the flagstaff of the station.

Petty Officers Joel Behr, Joseph Belladue, Leanna McKenna, and Travis Von Dessonneck received the double-chevron shield insignia of boatswain’s mates 2nd class. Petty Officer Adam Smith received the triple-chevron insignia of boatswain’s 1st class. While Longval and Parent attached most of the shields, Smith’s spouse, Meghan Smith, pinned the insignia onto his collar as he held his baby daughter, Elliana. Coast Guard Auxiliarist Wayne Iacono pinned the insignia onto Behr’s collar. Girlfriend Amber Brubaker pinned insignia on Joseph Belladue.

Longval told those gathered that Station Menemsha had the most advancements recently in the entire district (Southern New Jersey to the Canadian border), and emphasized how uncommon and special that was.

Additionally, machinery technician Joshua Hughes and fireman Christian Ortega-Santiago were decorated with boat forces insignia, pewter wave and compass devices signifying advanced skills and leadership as part of a boat crew.

While the Coast Guard owns several properties on the Vineyard used to lodge its personnel, Longval later told The Times, housing remains so scant that three of the five petty officers advanced Wednesday commute from off-Island.