Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Janessa-Reyanna Warschkow
Video conference calls are a routine way for Coast Guard commands to communicate information to their members. However, when the conference includes a surprise announcement that puts you in the spotlight it can quickly become a nerve wracking experience. Fortunately for Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Alta Jones, this surprise announcement included a lot of good news.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alta Jones is standing in front of the American Flag and a Coast Guard Ensign and wearing her Tropical Dress Blue uniform.
Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell, Jr., the commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, is also on the call and asks Jones why she is all dressed up.
“I was told to, Admiral,” said Jones.
The room erupts in laughter as if they all knew something she didn’t.
“Well, it’s good to see you dressed up because it will be important for us to move forward,” said Bell. “Master Chief, why don’t you take it away from here?”
“Aye, Aye, Admiral,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Corey Sidlo, command master chief, 17th Coast Guard District. “Attention to advancement!”
On Nov. 25, 2020, Jones was meritoriously advanced to the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class. She is currently serving her third tour at Coast Guard Station Ketchikan in Alaska. The Meritorious Advancement Program is a talent-management program designed to recognize superior performance and exceptional adherence to Coast Guard core values.
While at Station Ketchikan, Jones proved to her command numerous times that she was not only a high performer but that her character and attitude merited advancement to the next rank. Jones’ supervisors nominated her for the Meritorious Advancement Program for many reasons.
According to Chief Petty Officer Nathan O’Connell, officer-in-charge of Station Ketchikan, Jones stood out due to her willingness to take on greater responsibilities than what was expected of her.
She volunteers to fill a critical personnel gap for the Coast Guard Cutter Anthony Petit, a co-located unit, so the crew could carry out their upcoming patrols, said O’Connell.
Jones’ career in the Coast Guard started in 2012 after graduating from Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in marine science.
Originally from the small town of Colton, New York, Jones was inspired to join the Coast Guard after watching the show “Coast Guard Alaska.” She planned to save money, finish her four years of service, and go to graduate school.
“I ended up loving the job and it got me out and seeing so many different places,” said Jones. “I told myself if they’re going to pay me to travel the world, exercise, and move to all these cool places, I’ll just stay in.”
Jones’ first tour as a non-rate was in Honolulu, Hawaii, on two different Coast Guard cutters. After serving on the now decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter Rush from 2012 to 2015, she transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman in February 2015.
While in Honolulu, Jones decided she was going to strike the boatswain mate rating. The striker program required Jones to complete and perform a number of job-specific tasks. Once the tasks were completed, a qualified member would sign the task off to ensure a certain standard established by the Coast Guard had been met. After completing the striker program, Jones was able to advance to the next rank and become a boatswain mate.
Normally, to become rated in the Coast Guard, you must attend ‘A’ school. The striker program allows Coast Guard members to earn a job classification and rating without attending the associated ‘A’ school. Those members who have completed the striker program have proven through tasks designated by the program that they do not need to attend school to advance and obtain a rate. Completing the striker program was just the beginning of how Jones’ proactivity would propel her through her career.
After her tour in Honolulu, Jones transferred to Coast Guard Station Monterey, California, in July 2015. She would eventually earn her coxswain qualification for the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat and remain stationed there for four years.
Jones then moved on from Station Monterey to Station Ketchikan, where she is currently serving as the training petty officer for the unit while maintaining multiple qualifications.
“Great advice I received, and I think everybody can benefit from, is from my father’s old Navy chief,” said Jones. “He said to me, ‘Take every opportunity given to you. It might not seem like anything you want to do but go to every training you get offered and every job they give you. If they want to send you somewhere, do it. You might not like it at the moment, but it will reflect later in your career.’ Take every opportunity available to you because it could be the greatest opportunity of your career.”
Taking every opportunity given to her, along with being hard-working, is a blend for Jones’ success. She took broken programs and turned them around, said Chief Petty Officer Sean Crocker, the executive petty officer of Station Ketchikan. Since then, she’s made the unit better, which resulted in her shipmates being more successful. These are the reasons her peers trust and believe in her.