CAPE D - Lt. Jamie Frederick's new office, which he moved into as commanding officer [CO] at Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment just three weeks ago, reflects the personality he is bring to the job - everything already organized, pictures on the wall and desk just how he wants it.
"I took over on a Friday and the office looked like this on Saturday morning. I like to get things organized, hit the ground running," he said.
Frederick assumed command on June 11 from CWO Wesley Parker, who himself was an interim commander, filling a gap between when former CO Lt. Richard Burke left on April 23.
Frederick is youthful in appearance, but at age 29 has already been in the Coast Guard 10 years. He is arriving at a time when things begin to get a little exciting at Cape D, the start of the "busy season," with an annual surge in recreational boaters and sport fishers.
"You learn pretty quickly here that the environment is unforgiving and challenging," he said. "You need to continue to train because in October, November when you start running cases offshore and you have to cross the bar when it's breaking, these guys have to be sharp."
He noted the crew he has inherited is "outstanding" and well-prepared. Frederick has relevant experience, having worked as a surf and rescue controller in Key West, Fla., where they deal with surf and rescue as well as high profile law enforcement cases.
"I've worked in places where the operational tempo is high - the environment is just different," he said. "The commanding officer's job is not to come in here and take boats out and rescue people. The commanding officer's job is to ensure that the crew is taken care of. That the station runs efficiently, effectively. Those are the things that I'm looking at."
This is Frederick's first command. Immediately before coming to the Cape, Frederick served as a military aide to the Coast Guard chief of staff. He referred to it as being the "aide de camp" for the third-most senior person in the entire Coast Guard. The job was a lot of daily planning, prep work, travel planning and managing the office, all on a very demanding schedule. Frederick said that job really expanded his organizational skills.
"Any assignment at headquarters broadens your knowledge base," he said. "The most important thing you learn is time management. The burners are always full, you just have to move stuff around."
He worked out of Washington, D.C., a bit removed from smalltown U.S.A. But don't be mistaken, Frederick isn't really a big-city kind of guy, having grown up in rural New York state and spending a good portion of his career in Wisconsin.
"I've lived in smaller areas before," Frederick said. "I lived in Wisconsin for four years. I grew up an hour from New York [City]. But if you've ever been to New York state, you know that once you get out of Westchester County, it's pretty rural."
And it wasn't like he was coming here cold - Frederick spent a week here March and was here for a changing of command ceremony two years ago.
He joined the Coast Guard in 1994, a year after he graduated high school. Unsure of exactly hat he wanted to do at that point, he knew he was interested in law enforcement, search and rescue, and thought the Guard would be well suited for him, though he didn't really have a touchstone in the family for the service. Frederick's family are restaurateurs, owning and operating restaurants in upstate New York.
"I've been working in the restaurants since I was old enough to see over the counter," he said. "Pretty much anything they could throw at me I was doing."
He started out just like everybody else that joins, as an E1 in boot camp. He worked his way up through the enlisted ranks and applied to officer candidate school and was selected. After graduation, he spent his first tour as an officer in Key West. He applied for the chief of staff aide job and was hired for that, too. The same went for the CO job here - it became available, Frederick applied and was selected.
"As an officer, most of the jobs in the Coast Guard are experience and performance based," he explained. "Typically, in these kinds of jobs, they're looking for people who have some operational experience, driving boats. You want some experience at the group level. You have to have kind of the big picture understanding."
Though he has spent his life and career on the eastern side of the U.S., Frederick said he didn't take the change in environment into consideration when applying here.
"When you do a career in the military, you don't even think about it. It's more of a 'When am I going to move to the West Coast?' than 'If I'll ever go to the West Coast?' I think as you start to move around in the officer corps, you're going to have to jump around.
"I wanted a station command, I've wanted to do this for 10 years. Since I joined the Coast Guard I wanted to be the commanding officer of a smaller station."
There are very few CO positions, fewer than 10 out of the over 350 in the country, that are commanded by lieutenants. Cape D just so happens to be one of them.
Frederick has been married for nine years and has two children, one boy and one girl. His family, for the time being, is still in D.C., getting their old house packed up and preparing to move here in early August.
The CO position is a three-year term. Frederick said his focus for those three years will be set on Cape D, saying that he charged the crew on his first day to be "forward leaning," and think for themselves. He added that even the best unit in the Guard can always be better.
"I want to do everything we can to make this place the best station in the Coast Guard."