Updated 7:00 pm
Station Menemsha Master Chief Justin Longval passed the torch to Senior Chief Steven White after 26 years of serving as an enlisted member of the Coast Guard. The change of command ceremony took place on Friday morning at the Coast Guard boathouse on Menemsha Harbor, with family, station crew members, and friends celebrating the change of command.
Longval took the mantle as master chief in July 2021, while White was promoted to senior chief in April. Coast Guard Deputy Sector Commander of Sector Southeast New England Paul Mangini presided over the ceremony, giving special thanks to the officers’ families and to the station crew members.
“It’s my distinct pleasure to take part in this ceremony where Master Chief Justin Longval will transfer command to Senior Chief Steven White,” Mangini said. He praised Longval’s efforts at Station Menemsha, such as the development of a system to allow the Coast Guard to respond quickly to an active shooter on a ferry, and securing incentive pay to help Coast Guard families living on the Island. “Master Chief Longval, thank you for your unwavering commitment to the mission, success in your impressive leadership for this crew. You’ve been a part of a tremendous and positive impact in so many individuals at Station Menemsha, Sector Southeast of New England, and throughout the Coast Guard.”
Longval said he “could not be handing the station over to a better man” in White.
“Oh my God, I have so much to say,” Longval said. “You have been an absolute pleasure to work with. The improvements that you have made and the culture of doing more that you have fostered here will make your next year here amazing. I hope my leadership style of trusting you to make the right call has taught you something. My job as the officer in charge was not to ever second-guess or constantly verify that something had been done. It is to set early expectations and allow you and this outstanding team to excel, and excel you did.”
Longval also praised the station members, urging them to keep challenging themselves, asking “inquisitive questions,” and advocating for each other.
White said he had to go through a “grueling” review process to become the next officer in charge. He added that the Coast Guard is the only military branch that allows enlisted members to rise up to take command of a unit.
“When thinking about today, there are two terms I frequently come back to. I am grateful, and it’s an honor to serve,” White said, thanking those who invested in him and helped him throughout his Coast Guard career, particularly Longval.
White gave a special thanks to his family members in attendance.
“To the woman who raised me, Mom, and the woman who made me a better man, Ariel. I love you both, and I can say with 100 percent confidence I wouldn’t be here without you,” White said, adding words of advice to his children. “Sylus [son] and Phoenix [daughter], keep being who you want to be. Never give up, and never settle.”
Seeing her husband rise to lead Station Menemsha was a proud moment that was a long time coming.
“It brought tears to my eyes, super-proud. I can’t even take it how proud I am,” Ariel White said after the ceremony.
During the retirement ceremony, Longval gave a speech about his career and life with the Coast Guard, which began in 1996 in Kenosha, Wis. “For those of us in the military, retirement is for much of our careers a distant blip on the radar that often lacks clarity, but remains on a constant, varying, and decreasing range,” he said. “When we reach our 20-year mark, it often becomes a core focus for a period of time, as we seek to define our remaining time in service.”
Reflecting on his over two decades of service, Longval remembered “defining moments” that allowed him to rise to master chief. These include learning from various station chiefs, beginning at Kenosha and becoming the officer in charge of Station Woods Hole, among many others.
“The people you meet in various capacities serving in the Coast Guard make the job worthwhile. It’s all about the people. What I’ve also learned is that the opportunities you create, often through hard work, and some risk, are the ones you most often remember. Success in this organization, very much like the civilian sector, is earned. Nobody is ever going to give you success, to spoon-feed you a job opportunity. You earn, and most often, through the grind of hard work, empowerment of the team, trust, or perhaps one or two individuals with a shared vision,” Longval said.
Longval also took the time to thank the many Island organizations that have “made this job so amazing,” such as the Steamship Authority, the police chiefs who were present, the Buzzards Bay Task Force, and many more.
A special thanks was given to his family.
“Tara [wife], Evan [son], and Ella [daughter], you have kept me balanced, shown me the joys that life has to offer, and stood by my side unconditionally during this journey. Babe, your dedication, your passion as a nurse, and [your] successful career has been remarkable. You reminded me it wasn’t about the Coast Guard all the time … thanks for being you and supporting so much of us,” Longval said. “Evan and Ella, you guys are amazing. The things you have accomplished in a very short period of time have been remarkable. You are skilled, you are passionate, you are articulate, and you are gifted. You advocate for yourselves. You’re not afraid to go against the grain and stick up for what’s right. Keep doing that. I look forward to this new chapter in our lives. The future is extremely bright.”
Longval will begin a new career in construction management with Mother Construction.
“It’s been good. He’s done very well, and we’re very proud of him. He’s put his heart and soul into being in the Coast Guard, and caring for his people that have been underneath him, and also looking up to those that served before him. It’s kind of bittersweet, and I’m proud of him for everything that he’s accomplished, but it’s coming to an end,” Tara Longval, Justin’s wife, said. “We kind of have things planned out for the immediate future. We’re here in New England for at least four more years.”
The retiring Longval and ascending White also received awards and gifts, namely the Coast Guard Commendation Medal. Longval additionally received the presidential certificate of appreciation, and a plaque from the station crew members.
As White and Longval made their way back to the other end of the boathouse, “Semper Paratus” playing from the loudspeaker, the gathering showed their appreciation with applause.
Correction: Steven White is still a senior chief, and was not promoted to master chief.