Executive Petty Officer Jordan Baptiste returns to homeport at Menemsha
Six years ago, Jordan Baptiste joined the U.S. Coast Guard and left Martha's Vineyard, his birthplace and home for 20 years. Last week, his career brought him full circle, as he reported for duty as the new executive petty officer (XPO) at U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Station Menemsha.
"I never thought my profession with the Coast Guard would bring me home, so it's kind of a whole new definition of the term 'Homeland Security' for me - it means all the much more," said XPO Baptiste, in an interview at The Martha's Vineyard Times office last Thursday.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
"I've been wearing this hat, and it still doesn't seem real," he added, pointing at his navy blue cap emblazoned with its gold Station Menemsha insignia lying on the table.
In his new job, XPO Baptiste works as second in command to Senior Chief Stephen Barr, the Officer in Charge. "It's my job to act as the supervisor for everybody at the station and make sure everything runs smoothly - and, of course, to keep Senior Chief happy," he said.
XPO Baptiste spoke with unabashed enthusiasm about the options and opportunities his Coast Guard career has offered to date. "I've done everything," he declared. The list includes working with Secret Service in Kennebunkport on security for former President George Bush, boarding high-interest vessels off Portsmouth to check for weapons of mass destruction or illegal immigrants, enforcing fisheries laws, patrolling New York Harbor when the United Nation's General Assembly met, commissioning the first national security cutter and bringing it through the Panama Canal, and enforcing drug-trafficking laws and chasing drug-runners.
"It's been fun," the 27-year-old concluded with a smile.
XPO Baptiste's course steered towards Menemsha last year when he applied to qualify as an executive petty officer, for career progression on the way to taking command of a unit someday. After consideration by a screening board last fall, Petty Officer First Class Baptiste's name was published on a roster of qualified XPO candidates,
Shortly afterwards, a list of the upcoming year's open XPO assignments came out. At that time he was serving on the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Bertholf out of its home port in Alameda, Calif., and his goal was to be stationed on the East Coast, closer to family and friends.
"So I saw Menemsha on the list, and after speaking with my girlfriend, who's from California, I said, it doesn't get closer than that," XPO Baptiste said. Candidates are given a few weeks to pick and rank assignments in order of preference. "So I picked about 10 choices, with Menemsha at the top, and we waited, waited, waited, and finally the message came out last November, and it was just unreal to see my name," he said.