Coast Guard member recognized as Service Member of the Month in NC

 Written by Lt. J. Sieker of Special Missions Training Center

award presentation

Jeff Clarke, the Military Affairs Committee Chairman, presents an award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristine Phillips, the SMTC Service Member of the Month, Aug. 19, 2013

Petty Officer Second Class Kristine Phillips, a yeoman at Special Missions Training Center in Camp LeJune, N.C. and native of Poway, Calif., was recognized Aug. 19, as the Greater Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee’s Service Member of the Month for August.

The Greater Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Military Affair Committee has recognized local military servicemembers for more than 60 years, and bases recognition of a service member on the attributes of exceptional professional performance, particularly valuable or unique service, and participation in community projects, services and affairs.  The recipients are selected on a rotational basis from organizational and tenant Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commands located in Onslow County, N.C.

Jeff Clark, of the Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, opened the dinner reception with an introduction of Phillip’s background, recounted memorable moments from past duty stations and described her pride in upholding her family tradition of military service, which includes her father, mother and sisters.  Clark then proceeded to describe Phillip’s exceptional performance within the SMTC Servicing Personnel Office and Administration Branch.

The SMTC Servicing Personnel Office and Administration Branch handles both pay and administration functions, where most Coast Guard units will typically handle one or the other.  In addition to these and additional routine functions, the branch provides critical support for SMTC’s Deployable Specialized Forces and Tactical Boat training mission. 

Just this year alone to-date, the branch has managed the issuance of 300 travel orders in support of the training mission. Phillips diligently searched for means to reduce errors and increase customer service and created one spreadsheet which comprehensively captured all travelers, their spending costs and travel needs.  This additionally assisted the SMTC Budget office with vital funding accountability and record keeping.

Jeff Clarke, the Military Affairs Committee Chairman, presents an award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristine Phillips, the SMTC Service Member of the Month, Aug. 19, 2013, with Lt. Julie Sieker, Chief Petty Officer Rob Clerkin, and Capt. Jonathon Riffe, the SMTC commanding officer.

Jeff Clarke, the Military Affairs Committee Chairman, presents an award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristine Phillips, the SMTC Service Member of the Month, Aug. 19, 2013, with Lt. Julie Sieker, Chief Petty Officer Rob Clerkin, and Capt. Jonathon Riffe, the SMTC commanding officer.

Adding to her outstanding performance of military duties, in preparation of the fiscal year 2013 transfer season, Phillips personally liaised with the Camp Lejeune Travel Management Office to gain a mutual understanding between the Marine Corps and Coast Guard travel operations system and operations.  This ensured that SMTC members transferring to and from Camp Lejeune had their household good shipments properly and efficiently managed, and created a positive working relationship with SMTC’s Department of Defense counterparts.

Upon being formally announced as the Service Member of the Month, Phillips graciously addressed the committed and attendees, describing the recognition as a “tremendous honor.”  She thanked her husband in attendance, Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Phillips, a Coast Guard information system technician, and gave a special thanks to her mother for her unwavering support throughout her career. 

Phillips stressed the importance of the role that her shipmates have played in her achievement: “I would not be as successful without my teammates.”

Peggy Rochon, from the Hope for the Warriors Organization and a Military Affairs Committee member, presented Phillips with a Beirut Memorial portrait given by the Committee to award winners, and was chosen to do so due to her close connection with the Coast Guard as a “proud Coast Guard spouse and retiree wife.”  Her husband, retired Chief Petty Officer Gene Rochon, was instrumental in standing up the then Port Security Unit Training Detachment (PSU TRADET)  in 1998, when the Marine Corps opened the gates of Camp Lejeune and Courthouse Bay to become the new home of the training detachment and to the 16 Coasties who comprised the TRADET.  SMTC has since grown and developed from the PSU TRADET into the 200 member-strong training Center of Excellence it is today.

In her speech, Rochon passed a word from Rochon to Phillips:

“Petty Officer Phillips, I am proud to call you shipmate and congratulate you on this honor.  As a member of the Special Mission Training Center crew, you have a unique opportunity that others in the Coast Guard will never know … it is the opportunity to become better acquainted with our brothers and sisters in the United States Marine Corps.  Stay true to the course you have charted for your career and success will be yours.” 

The event’s Coast Guard representation included Capt. Jonathan Riffe, the SMTC commanding officer, Master Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Patton, the SMTC command master chief, Lt. Julie Sieker, Phillip’s former Administration Branch chief and Chief Petty Officer Robert Clerkin, the SMTC Administration and Pay chief.

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