KODIAK, Alaska -- Petty Officer 1st Class Jaime DeBarros, a maritime enforcement specialist stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, was named the 2020 17th District Enlisted Person of the Year (EPOY) and was recognized at the Armed Services YMCA Annual Salute to the Military in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 13, 2020.
After thorough review of his impeccable performance at the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center (NPRFTC) in Kodiak, DeBarros earned the distinguished EPOY title after being nominated by his command.
“In the Bering Sea of high performers, Petty Officer DeBarros is a prize catch,” said Coast Guard Master Chief Corey Sidlo, the District 17 Command Master Chief in Juneau. “He is dedicated to performance improvement and consistently performs above his pay grade.”
As a Master Training Specialist, a Critical Incident Stress Management peer, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Team member, Command Financial Specialist, Nationally Credited Victim Advocate, founding officer of the Last Frontier Chapter of the Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Association and a member of Team Kodiak’s Leadership and Diversity Council and Coast Guard Enlisted Association, DeBarros embodies Sidlo’s personal mantra, “impersonate the rank above you, not what’s on your collar.”
In 1999, Coast Guard Commandant James Loy authorized the establishment of the EPOY ribbon as a way to recognize one member from both the Coast Guard active duty and reserve workforce who thoroughly exemplify the core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
Potential candidates, all drawn from the rates of E-2 to E-6, can have no record of non-judicial punishment or court martial. A mark of “unsatisfactory” in the conduct category within the past three years of the nomination date is also reason for immediate disqualification. There is no room for error or minor slip-ups in the performance, bearing and attitude of the nominated Coast Guard members.
“Petty Officer DeBarros is a phenomenal instructor and leader at NPRFTC,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Hersh, commanding officer, NPRFTC. “His passion for the professional development of his students is exemplary and he consistently strives to improve both the people and processes he encounters. I am tremendously proud of the work he has done in reinforcing the relationship between the training center and D17’s operational units, where we share a critical partnership in promoting a safe and sustainable environment for our national significant fisheries stocks.”
Each district submits nomination packages each year and the EPOY recipients are selected by a panel of senior enlisted members and evaluated against a set of established criteria that includes performance, work ethics, military bearing, standards of conduct and a strong community service commitment.
"I am honored to be selected as the 17th District Enlisted Person of the Year," said DeBarros. "This is an award I would have never thought of receiving and I am truly grateful."
The EPOY competition winner is advanced to the next higher pay grade and is automatically recommended for the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
In normal circumstances, the EPOY winners are expected to represent the Coast Guard at various events and functions throughout the year, so candidates are graded quite severely on their uniform’s appearance and their military bearing.
This year, however, with the pandemic still looming overhead, a lot of the in-person awards ceremonies and events are being postponed or altered.
“This year, the ceremony to award DeBarros was a hybrid event,” said Sidlo. “It was an in-person dinner for the honorees blended with a. virtual presentation of each member, which was pre-produced and recorded by a local video production company which highlighted their service and an acceptance speech. The ASYMCA went to great creative lengths to present a meaningful event to help the military services recognize their highest performers.”
COVID-19, DeBarros said, has affected everyone and altered how he did his job at the NPRFTC, where the training programs are typically in person and hands on. DeBarros and his team introduced some virtual elements to continue mission essential and time-sensitive training without losing efficiency or quality of instruction. Students were still coming through the school house but they had to implement social distancing, mask-wearing and strict sanitation guidelines to keep students and staff safe.
The regional winners are eligible for national honors along with their peers from other Coast Guard regions across the nation. The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Jason Vanderhaden, will recognize the national winners in an award ceremony later this spring.
“Congratulations again to ME1 DeBarros and everyone that was nominated this year, “said Sidlo. “I’m grateful for all of the commands and chiefs that submitted EPOY/REPOY nominations, recognizing their highest performers and to the ASYMCA for hosting a successful event to further recognize our honorees.”