National Hispanic Heritage Month: SK1 Jean Alonzo

SK1 Alonzo
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, five members of Coast Guard 17th District will be featured September 29 through October 3.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jean Alonzo, storekeeper, Coast Guard 17th District

Alonzo was born in the Dominican Republic, and lived in Florida, Puerto Rico and Bronx, N.Y. He is married and has three daughters.

Alonzo is a storekeeper at Coast Guard 17th District in Juneau, Alaska. He joined the Coast Guard in 2003 and was stationed at Station Atlantic City, N.J., Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant out of Port Canaveral, Fla., and Station Barnegat Light, N.J.

What does it mean to you to serve in the Coast Guard?

Being part of the Coast Guard gives me a sense of pride and self accomplishment because not everyone gets the privilege to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, especially for me because of where I come from. My background being in this organization has exceeded the expectations of my family and friends back home.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your career?

During my career I have learned that being humble and serving people sincerely will take you a lot further than you think; being a leader is to serve, not being served.

How has being a part of a sea-going service impacted your life?

Being part of a sea-going service has impacted my life greatly – it has given me a change in my perspective, viewing life in a different way. I remember when I was on Vigilant, my wife and daughter would say “bye” from the pier while the boat was slowly navigating away until they would disappear from my view. That scene was hard to embrace knowing that I would not see my wife and kid for 50 to 60 days, and sometimes wondering if I would ever see them again. These experiences have changed the way I view and value my family and life.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the positive influences and traditions that Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation with. What does it mean to you to celebrate this month in the Coast Guard?

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage month is a great way to recognize those members that have given their all, even their lives, not just to the Coast Guard but to this country. Though I was not born in the U.S., I consider myself an American and I’m very proud to serve this country.

Tags: , , ,