African American Coast Guard Officer Proves Anything is Possible

Sometimes life can be completely random - the most important choices, made in a moment, that set your direction for decades, are decided by chance. So it was for Dr. Vince Patton who, as a teenager, dead set on a path for his future, ended up on a new course that led him to become the first African American Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.

Dr. Patton's dream as a kid was to follow in his older brother's footsteps and join the Navy. On his way to the enlistment office in downtown Detroit, MI, he was captivated by the sight of a man in a sharp nautical uniform. Not realizing he had walked into the wrong office, he ended up signing up for the Coast Guard!

That one wrong turn set into motion a stellar 30 year career. His numerous military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, which is the nation's highest military peacetime recognition for performance of duty. When Dr. Patton became the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, he was their most senior enlisted member, representing over 45,000 personnel as the principal adviser to the Commandant of the Coast Guard.

He is proud that his story is inspiring other young African Americans who may want to follow his footsteps. "It gives others hope that all the doors will be open and all the things they want to do are there," he reflected, with a smile. "When they see that, they know if that guy can make it, I know I can make it."

Watch and learn about Dr. Patton's journey and what he is doing now in support of several education initiatives, continuing his distinguished life of service.

This video was produced by Lucia Nazzaro and shot/edited by Abe Halpert

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