Smithfield flotilla commander receives national leadership award

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019

Smithfield Flotilla 59’s Harry “Fred” Hetzel recently received a national leadership award from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Commodore Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership Award recognizes exemplary performance by a flotilla commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary — the uniformed, civilian, volunteer branch of the U.S. Coast Guard — for his or her service during the previous calendar year. A joint awards board made up of active duty, reserve and Auxiliary members selected Hetzel for the honor out of 10 nominations throughout the USCG Auxiliary.

Hetzel was first elected Flotilla 59’s commander in 2017, taking office at the beginning of the 2018 calendar year.

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This award, according to District 5 Southern Region Commodore Michelle Thornton, parallels the other Coast Guard inspirational leadership awards including the Capt. John G. Witherspoon Award for active duty and reserve officers, the George R. Putnam Award for civilians, and the Master Chief Petty Officer Angela M. McShan Award for active duty or reserve chief petty officers.

According to the Office of Leadership at Coast Guard Headquarters, only flotilla commanders who have demonstrated sustained, exceptional standards of proficiency and conduct, and whose appearance and bearing were consistently impeccable, are considered for nomination. This includes exemplifying the Coast Guard’s core values of honor (integrity), respect (esteem of juniors and seniors) and devotion to duty (ethical behavior); fostering a culture of diversity through inclusion and commitment; mentoring junior and senior personnel toward their highest potential; leading and motivating by example to ensure mission execution excellence; and projecting a professional uniform appearance and bearing.

The Auxiliary’s national commodore solicits nominations for this award every year in October. Nominations originate at the flotilla level, which is the basic unit of the Auxiliary, and may be submitted by any flotilla member. Nominations are forwarded to the division commander for the nominee’s flotilla, and eventually to a national selection panel appointed by the Office of Leadership and chaired by a Coast Guard captain.

As a recipient of this award, Hetzel will receive a trophy and a nomination for the Coast Guard Auxiliary Commendation Medal.

“I am truly honored and humbled to have been chosen for this award,” Hetzel said. “I owe a debt of gratitude to all of the past commanders of Flotilla 59, going back to its chartering in 1988. Without their dedicated mentoring, nurturing and teachings of all past and present members, I would not have even been considered for the award.”

Hetzel added, “The flotilla leadership that was in place when I joined had already set the course that I was privileged to follow, culminating in this award. Our members literally lead themselves because they know what needs done, when it needs done and how to do it with very little coaching or encouragement from me or our leadership team. This is evident in Flotilla 59 being named the National Flotilla of the Year for 2016, when I was in my first year as vice flotilla commander. Since joining the Auxiliary I have also been exposed to, and benefited from, the leadership principles and practices of not just Flotilla 59, but of all members in Division 5 and District 5 South.

“I am honored to be a member of Flotilla 59 and look forward to its continuing success and growth. I would be remiss if I did not also thank the town of Smithfield for its support for our program. It is commendable that the population of this tiny, but famous, town supports our flotilla at the level that it does.”

Hetzel joined the USCG Auxiliary and Flotilla 59 in 2015 after completing more than 33 years of combined active duty and reserve service in the U.S. Coast Guard, retiring with the rank of chief warrant officer.

Commodore Charles S. Greanoff, for whom the award is named, is a past Auxiliary national commodore who, through his leadership and membership in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, has logged over 63 years of service to the United States. Greanoff first became affiliated with the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1943 when he joined District 9 Flotilla 07-03, a port security unit responsible for protecting the Port of Cleveland, the Cuyahoga River, and the city’s bridges. After World War II, Greanoff continued his active participation in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and became a Flotilla Commander in 1950. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Auxiliary, first holding the position of division captain in 1953, Ninth District commodore in 1956-1957, and achieving the Auxiliary’s highest position of national commodore in 1958-1959.

As national commodore, Greanoff traveled the country to support the new missions of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and even testified before Congress on the importance of boating safety regulations. In March of 1993, Greanoff was appointed the Ninth District ombudsman coordinator, the first ombudsman coordinator position created in the Coast Guard. He continued in that role until 2005. Commodore Greanoff trained more than 150 district ombudsmen at more than 50 units around the Great Lakes.

To learn more about the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Flotilla 59, visit