Coast Guardsmen Awarded A Rare Meritorious Advancement

The United States Coast Guard Station at Manistee, Michigan, held a promotion ceremony for an exceptional crew member on April 26, 2023. Manistee is on the coast of Lake Michigan, about halfway between Traverse City and Grand Rapids. I found this story in the Manistee News Advocate, written by Arielle Breen.

The story is centered on a very rare event, indeed, according to Nick Gera, commanding officer of the Manistee USCG Station. The occasion being celebrated was the meritorious advancement of one of the station’s Coast Guardsmen. According to Gera, such advancements are very rare; they are “definitely something that happens in the single digits every year in the entire service. The Coast Guardsman at the center of this story is Tafatafa Sataua, a Machinery Technician. He was meritoriously promoted/advanced from Machinery Technician Third Class (E4) to Machinery Technician Second Class (E5).

Photo: Coast Guard/Christine Bills

Those who have been in the military know that there is a normal, often long and involved, set of requirements and experiences that usually take place in the promotion/advancement process. In the normal way of things in the Coast Guard, several enlisted rating qualifications have to be fulfilled, then all of the necessary signatures have to be acquired. Then there are the service-wide tests that have to be taken and passed. Once that is done, one gets “rank ordered,” which is based on where you are and the cut for promotions that year. This determines when you will get promoted/advanced.

Meritorious advancements are based solely on merit. Gera, the commanding officer at Coast Guard Station Manistee, described Sataua as a technical expert, an outstanding trainer, and a mentor to his seniors and to his peers. “He’s been a model servicemember, as well as a model citizen in this community in which he lives. He’s an inspiration to juniors, peers, and seniors alike.”

Photo: Coast Guard/Christine Bills

Sataua was born in American Samoa. He is a qualified crewman, boat engineer, boarding team member, and watchstander. Coast Guard Stations like the one at Manistee, MI, are small units and very much a part of the local community. As a result, Sataua has been very involved in the local community volunteer experiences. He says of himself, “I was born on an island…I love small towns. Big cities, they’re not really my thing, and people in this town are really nice. I’ve come to really have a connection with the town.”

In that vein, Sataua has met and worked with a lot of the local police, firefighters, and paramedics in Manistee. He sees these relationships as very important, as they will, over time, be involved in working together cohesively, both on the lake and in the community. He has volunteered with the Manistee Recreation Association as a basketball referee in their youth programs. He has helped out in local food pantry events as well. He feels a strong bond with the Manistee community.

Photo: Coast Guard/Christine Bills

The promotion ceremony was kept secret from him, but he realized something was up when he saw his family in the audience. The entire Manistee Coast Guard community was present at the event, as well as several Coast Guard dignitaries via Zoom. They included the Vice Commandant of the USCG, the Ninth District commander, Admiral Johnson, from Cleveland, OH, and members of the command staff of Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.

Prior to serving at USCG Station Manistee, Sataua was stationed at Jacksonville, Florida. He will begin his new assignment along Lake Michigan way down on the southern end of the lake at Michigan City, Indiana.

We congratulate Machine Technician 2nd Class Tafatafa Sataua on his meritorious promotion and wish him even better success at his next duty station. Sataua clearly demonstrates the Coast Guard motto of “Semper Paratus” (Always Ready). Bravo Zulu, MT 2nd Class Sataua!

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