By Bethany Buchanan Bogacki | Branch Assistant, Public Affairs
When BM2 Paul Jacob returned from leave earlier this month, he saw an email from Master Chief Lanny Nies that was addressed only to him. Not to the sector of Mobile. Just for the 27-year-old, a boatswain's mate and Auxiliary University Programs unit leader at Southern Mississippi.
“ ‘Whenever you get a chance, can you give me a call?’ That’s all it said in the email,” Jacob said. “My first reaction was, uh-oh. How in the world did I get Master Chief’s attention?”
While Jacob had no time to sit and ponder what could have been behind the message -- he had to leave his desk and take care of his duties around Coast Guard Station Gulfport -- but he was quick to ask a superior if he knew about the email and, if he did, if it were a sign of bad news. The suspense was killing him, Jacob said.
“I know about it,” Jacob said he was told. “And it’s not bad news.”
The moment he had an opportunity, Jacob said he logged back on and, to his surprise, saw another email from Master Chief. The subject line read, ‘Selected.’
That’s how Jacob, who has been in the Coast Guard for just about six years and stationed in Mississippi for a year, learned he was chosen as the Enlisted Person of the Quarter.
“I was incredibly honored to be nominated by my peers at the station as the Sailor of the Quarter. Then it went to sector in Mobile, and you cross your fingers and hope for the best,” he said. “I come back from leave, and find an email from the top at the sector. … I was really caught off guard. I never really expected the things that I wanted to do would lead me to this kind of award. It’s a really huge.”
He said he was handed another surprise on Coast Guard Day, a time, he said, when the station holds events with Gulfport Armed Forces Retirement Home -- which houses among its residents three former Coasties.
Senior Chief Rebecca Wyness was the guest speaker, Jacob said, and started talking about a typical day in the Coast Guard.
“Then she starts talking about our unit and the AUP, and you perk up,” he said. “And she singles me out, and mentioned I got selected (for the award), and the crowd gave a little ovation. It was nice, it was shocking ... To be singled out like that, at an event like that, it was really special. It was the last thing I ever expected. It’s a huge huge honor. …
My wife, son and parents were there. I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do without the support of my family and the support of my unit. … It’s more than I could ask for, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without them. ...
“We’ve got excellent people from top to bottom at our station. They give us the opportunity and skills to achieve great things, and they always push us to get better.”
Jacob said he had been on the fence about applying to Officer Candidate School before deciding to enlist, but, ultimately, he knew he wanted to be in a position to lead and help others. He said AUP helped illuminate a path for him.
“I wanted to be at the position where I could make the biggest impact and most positive influence; the AUP gave me that answer,” said Jacob, who’s studying management online at Bellevue University. “This is just one part of life as an enlisted member that gives me the opportunity to teach and give back to my community. The reason why I joined the Coast Guard was to leave a positive mark on the world. This program gives me a chance to meet that expectation.”
For current and future AUP students, Jacob had this advice: “Take advantage of everything that the Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard can provide to you. There are endless opportunities, and all you have to do is ask about them. I can’t even fathom all the things there are to do in the Auxiliary, there’s so much. It’s grown so much. ...
“Get out there and do it. Find what you want to do and do it. Try everything.”