Station Menemsha’s officer in charge, Justin Longval, was promoted Friday morning from senior chief to master chief at a ceremony at the Coast Guard’s boathouse on Menemsha Harbor. Additionally, all Station Menemsha personnel received commendations for “outstanding performance in maritime law enforcement missions and public affairs outreach,” as noted by Chief Longval.
Petty Officer Brody Schilling was also promoted Friday, ascending from machinist 3rd class to machinist 2nd class.
Chief Longval’s family participated in the ceremony. His children, Evan and Ella, pinned the anchor insignia of his new rank to his lapels with the assistance of his wife, Tara. Longval described his family as “his inspiration to always do better.”
“Justin truly cares for his crew,” Chief Steven White, executive officer of Station Menemsha, told the audience. “And wants more than anything to see them succeed. Time and time again, I’ve watched him stick his neck out to do what’s best for his crew. He’s a leader, he’s a mentor, and he’s a friend of mine.”
Chief Longval made it clear his commitment to the Vineyard and the region remains solid even though he may be eyeing retirement in a couple of years. “This day has been a long time coming — six service-wide exams as a senior chief, multiple transfers, but the day has finally arrived,” he told the audience.
A key piece of wisdom Longval said he’d learned over his career was the importance of developing relationships. “These relationships define who you are,” he said. “They breed creativity and collaboration. And they make it evident to others that you value their contributions and commitment.”
Longval thanked the Vineyard’s law enforcement community, along with the Massachusetts State Police and Environmental Police, for their collaborative work with Station Menemsha.
Longval thanked Falmouth Police Chief Chief Ed Dunne for the positive impression he made back when Longval was officer in charge of Station Woods Hole. Longval described his friendship with Dunne as something that he values “tremendously.”
Longval thanked the Steamship Authority, Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio, the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, and a number of other stakeholders for their efforts to hone emergency response protocols for ferries: “We now have a viable, sustainable, and always ready method of securing emergency response vessels [for] any of the ferries operating between Cape Cod and the Islands so we can swiftly and appropriately deal with an emergency or active threat scenario.”
Longval tipped his hat to John Keene, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Fishermen’s Preservation Trust, for how welcoming he has been, and for his efforts to promote Vineyard fishing interests: “Know that the Coast Guard is a partner in the safety and productivity of our commercial fishing fleet, especially those that call our Island harbors home.”
Capt. Clint Prindle, new Sector Southeast New England commander, addressed those gathered with a bit of awe at the prodigious number of maritime boardings Station Menemsha achieved in recent years.
“I’m Capt. Clint Prindle, I’ve been in the job as the sector commander for 23 hours — almost 24 hours — so we’re getting there. And this is my first time on Martha’s Vineyard since 1999, so I’m happy to be back with y’all on the Island. I’ve got to say, listening to the citation of the award that the station just received, 46 percent of the sector’s boardings? Senior, how many stations do we have in the sector, eight, right?”
Capt. Prindle asked jokingly, How many stations does it take to equal Station Menemsha’s boarding record?
Kidding aside, Capt. Prindle commended the station for its achievement. “Well done, Station Menemsha,” he said, adding, “I look forward to working with you.”
Chief Nathan Dlabaj, Longval’s leadership colleague at Station Menemsha along with Chief White, described to those gathered in the boathouse what the significance was of the anchor insignia Longval had earned.
“The anchor is the emblem of the rank of chief petty officer, United States Coast Guard,” Chief Dlabaj said. “The anchor is fouled and has a shield superimposed to its shank. To the novice, these are meant to identify a chief petty officer of the United States Coast Guard. But to a chief, the chain, shield, and anchor have a much deeper meaning. The anchor is emblematic of a chief. It is stability and security. It reminds chiefs of the responsibility they have to keep those that they serve safe from harm and to maintain the finest traditions of the Coast Guard. The historical significance of the shield dates back to the revenue cutter service. Congress wanted the cutters to be distinguished from other vessels by a unique ensign. On that ensign, created in 1799 … the shield is a distinctive part of the design. The 13 stars and stripes on the shield represent the 13 original colonies.
“The chain is symbolic of flexibility and strength. To remind the chief the chain of life is forged day by day, link by link. May it be forged with character and virtue in the fires of adversity that will be faced in the course of a career. It also stands for the reliance of one chief upon another to get the job done and that every chief shall endeavor not to be a weak link in the chain. Lastly, the chain fouled around the anchor is the sailors’ disgrace — to remind the chief that there may be times when there are circumstances beyond their control in the performance of duty. Yet a chief must still complete the task. It is during these times the humility and fortitude, learned ages ago at initiation, or on bitter experience, are brought to bear. It is with great pride and supreme confidence that you will bear the responsibilities of chief proudly and with conviction and purpose … We present you with the symbol of our calling.”