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Radm. Stephen Rochon

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Stephen W. Rochon was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard in 1970. He received a commission as an ensign in 1975 from the Officer Candidate School at Yorktown, Virginia. He then was assigned to Marine Safety Office (MSO) in California as assistant port operations and intelligence officer. In 1979, he served in the Coast Guard Reserve while attending Xavier University of Louisiana and graduated from there with his B.S. degree in business administration. Rochon then graduated from the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) in 1999 with his M.S. degree in national resource strategy. In 2002, he also completed the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Program for National and International Security, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Management.

In 1984, Rochon returned to active duty and served as Chief of the Reserve Training Branch of the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland, Ohio. In this capacity, Rochon organized the Coast Guard’s first combat skills course with the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia and served on temporary duty in the Middle East to train the Royal Jordanian Coast Guard. Rochon served as the Coast Guard's director of personnel management in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005 where he provided support for Coast Guard personnel and their families. In 2006, Rochon became the Commander of Maintenance and Logistics Command at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic Headquarters; and, in, 2007, he was named Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher at the White House for former President George W. Bush. The first African American to hold the position, Rochon ran the executive mansion for four years for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, executing all major events at the White House and preserving the nation’s most historic home.

His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, three Legion of Merit Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, two Department of Transportation 9/11 Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, two Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbons, among twenty service and unit awards. His civilian awards include the 1989 Coast Guard Equal Opportunity Achievement Award, the 1990 United Negro College Fund Leadership Award, the 1997 Port of Baltimore Vital Link Award, the 1998 Vice President Gore Hammer Award, the 1998 NAACP Roy P. Wilkins Renowned Service Award, the 2001 World Trade Center New Orleans C. Alvin Bertel Award, the 2002 Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association Maritime Person of the Year, the 2007 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the 2009 Spirit of Hope Award.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Stephen W. Rochon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.184

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/8/2013

Last Name

Rochon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wayne

Occupation
Schools

Blessed Sacrament School

St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory Academy

Xavier University of Louisiana

National Defense University (ICAF)

University of Maryland

Northeastern High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Stephen

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

ROC02

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas, Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Find The Good And Praise It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/7/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Shrimp Po' Boy

Short Description

Rear admiral Radm. Stephen Rochon (1950 - ) served as director of personnel management in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita in 2005, and went on to become the first African American director of the Executive Residence and usher at the White House where he served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Employment

Delete

Unites States Customs and Border Protection

White House

United States Coast Guard

United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Office

United States Coast Guard Ninth District

United States Department of Transportation

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626516">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Stephen Rochon's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626517">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626518">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon describes his mother's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626519">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon describes his mother's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626520">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about his maternal grandfather and his job as a Pullman porter</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626521">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about his mother's growing up in Baltimore, Maryland and New Orleans, Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626522">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626523">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon talks about how his parents met, his father's success as a pharmacist, his parents' divorce and his relationship with his father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626524">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about his siblings, his similarities to his mother and his maternal grandfather, and his step-father's name</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626525">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon describes his earliest childhood memories of taking trips with his mother and brothers in his mother's car</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626526">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon discusses racism and segregation in the South, and contrasts this with his trip to Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626527">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about the schools that he attended in New Orleans, Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626528">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about his elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626529">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626530">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon describes Mardi Gras in New Orleans while he was growing up, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626531">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon describes Mardi Gras in New Orleans while he was growing up, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626532">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about the practice of throwing coconuts in the Mardi Gras parade</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626533">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon talks about his interest in chemistry in grade school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626534">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon talks about his high school in New Orleans, Louisiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626535">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about his interest in music and his family's musical inclinations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626536">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about running for student body president and playing sports in high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626537">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about his interest in music, Xavier University's pharmacy department and joining the U.S. Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626538">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon recalls Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626539">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience at Xavier University, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626540">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience at Xavier University, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626541">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Stephen Rochon discusses his decision to join the U.S. Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626542">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about joining the U.S. Coast Guard in 1970</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626543">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon talks about his early experience in the U.S. Coast Guard and his promotion after three years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626544">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon talks about his early promotion, working in the U.S. Coast Guard recruiting office and his decision to stay in the service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626545">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about the end of his first marriage, his parents' support, and raising his son</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626546">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about raising his son in California, resigning from active Coast Guard duty, and his father's business going bankrupt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626547">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about working in real estate, returning to Xavier University and going back into active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1984</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626548">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon talks about his tour as Chief of the Reserve Training Branch of the U.S. Coast Guard's 9th District in Cleveland, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626549">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon talks about his tour as Chief of the Port Security Branch at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626550">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Stephen Rochon talks about his tours as Chief of Officer Recruiting and Chief of the Officer Programs Branch, and his promotion to lieutenant commander</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626551">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Stephen Rochon talks about the Haitian migrant crisis of the early 1990s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626552">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about his first day at the U.S Coast Guard headquarters and Alex Haley's significance in the Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626553">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon discusses the absence of an African Americans in the U.S. Coast Guard when he joined in the 1970s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626554">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon discusses his interest in black history in the U.S. Coast Guard, his mentor, Alex Haley, and dating and marrying his second wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626555">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about his service as deputy commander of MIO/Activities in Baltimore and attending the National Defense University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626556">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience as the commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in New Orleans, and becoming a rear admiral</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626557">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about becoming the second African American rear admiral in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, after Erroll Brown</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626558">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon describes his service and experience in the U.S. Department of Transportation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626559">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon recalls the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626560">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about the Department of Transportation and becoming the acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Security</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626561">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience as the acting assistant commandant for Intelligence in the U.S. Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626562">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon reflects upon the communication between U.S. Intelligence agencies</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626563">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon discusses his assignment as the director of Personnel Management, his command in Norfolk, Virginia, and Hurricane Katrina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626564">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about being recruited as the Chief Usher of The White House, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626565">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about being recruited as the Chief Usher of The White House, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626566">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon describes the history of the role of the Chief Usher of The White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626567">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about demographics of the White House staff members, and their longevity of service, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626568">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon talks about demographics of the White House staff members, and their longevity of service, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626569">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon describes his responsibilities as the Chief Usher of the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626570">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon describes how the White House transitions between presidents, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626571">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon describes how the White House transitions between presidents, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626572">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience in the White House with the Obama family, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626573">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience in the White House with the Obama family, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626574">Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon talks about picking a swing set for President Barack Obama's daughters and the basketball court in the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626575">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about working in collaboration with the Secret Service at the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626576">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience at the White House State dinner for the Queen of England in 2007</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626577">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon describes his experience during Pope Benedict's visit to the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626578">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about the differences between the Bushes' and the Obamas' stay in the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626579">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon talks about his family's reaction and support of his service as the chief usher of the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626580">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon talks about his decision to retire as the chief usher of the White House</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626581">Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon talks about the subject matter for his book, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626582">Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon talks about the subject matter for his book, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626583">Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Stephen Rochon talks about the film, 'Lee Daniels' The Butler', pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626584">Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon talks about the film, 'Lee Daniels' The Butler', pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626585">Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Stephen Rochon reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626586">Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Stephen Rochon reflects upon opportunities in the U.S. Coast Guard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626587">Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Stephen Rochon talks about The Rochon Group, LLC</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626588">Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Stephen Rochon describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626589">Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Stephen Rochon reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626590">Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Stephen Rochon talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626591">Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Stephen Rochon talks about how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626592">Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Stephen Rochon describes his photographs, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/626593">Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Stephen Rochon describes his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Stephen Rochon talks about joining the U.S. Coast Guard in 1970
Stephen Rochon describes the history of the role of the Chief Usher of The White House
Transcript
Okay, so [U.S.] Coast Guard, you met a brother in bell bottoms (laughter)?$$Yeah, yeah, 6'2" [height]. I'll never forget him, SK-1, Henry Dillsworth, D-I-L-L-S-W-O-R-T-H. And he was the first one when I walked in that office. And I said, God, that's an impressive man, tall guy in these bell bottoms, and got this flack tie, kerchief around his neck and white piping, you know, coming down here, and I said, man, that looks pretty sharp. And so we started talking, and I said, my cousin told me I should check this out, you know. And he said, Ah, Rochon, you know, it's a good outfit. And I says, well, tell me what those stripes mean on your arm. He had an arm full of stripes we call hash marks, and each stripe means four years of service. But the rank was up here, and I said, what is that? He said, I'm a second-class petty officer. And I said, oh, okay, that sounds impressive. I says, what's the next step from there. He says, you become a first class. So I said, well, how long does it take to become a first class? And he says, well, you won't have to worry about that Rochon because you have you--you have to wait till your second term, your second hitch. He said, I've been in, you know, a good fifteen years, and I'm second class. So I says, well, how quickly can you make first class? And he says, well, there're some people that make it in under four years, and we call 'em "slick arm first." In other words, they have nothing on this arm 'cause they don't have enough years to have even one stripe representing four years. So sometimes people make it in less than four years. He said, but don't worry about that. That doesn't happen. I said, but is it possible? And he says, yeah. And I said, okay, great, not realizing he gave me my first big goal in the service. So to make a, to make it short, I signed up. Two weeks later, I told my mother [Ursula Bernice Carrere] good-bye, and my buds, gave my drums away to the church and went off to Alameda, California.$$Now, how did your mother feel about you joining the Coast Guard?$$Well, she knew it was either that or the [U.S.] Army. And she says, the lesser of two evils in her mind. And she said, my son might come back alive, if he's on a patrol boat. Now, there was a waiting list in the Coast Guard to get to Vietnam 'cause we had these patrol boats, and they, we had some significant casualties over there. But there were so many people that wanted that duty on the river that I thought my chances of going over there were kind of slim. And I was right.$$Okay, okay, so this is 1970?$$1970--$$And--$$November 21st.$Okay, okay, give us some little history on the origin of that position [Chief Usher of The White House] and what it entails?$$Well, it, the way it started, it was not a job titled "chief usher." There were ushers, and they actually, during the time of [President] Thomas Jefferson and other presidents, they--and [President] John Adams, people would be able to come knock on the front door of The White House and say I'd like to have an audience with the president. And so the person that answered the door would usher them in to the sitting room, and they would wait their turn to speak with the president. Now, there would be a few million people knocking on the front door, but that's the origin of that job. And then over time, it grew as the requirements of the house grew. It needed someone to run the staff, the chefs and the butlers and the housekeepers, and then the physical plant. And it was around 1886 that that title "chief usher" was given. I'm trying to think of the, I know J.B. West was one of them. The one just before me was Gary Walters, behind him was Rex Skalton (ph.), J.B. West, Dens Moore, you know, there were a couple other ones. But as years progressed, and after the Truman [President Harry S. Truman] renovation, and after the executive residence became an official ceremonial place, not just the home of the president, but where you would entertain heads of state, with state dinners, and entertainers, the staff had to grow to keep up with that. So that position now is the director. It's like the general manager of a five-star hotel, except you have some pretty important guests. And it does require a full team of engineers and carpenters and painters and butlers and chefs and florists and housekeepers and curators to preserve that house for hopefully, two--400 years from now. So it was a major responsibility, and it was a 12-14 hour days often, average, 11, 11-hour days for eight hours pay, by the way.$$Okay.$$But the house was riddled with loyalty and you just stayed. Not everybody got overtime, certainly not the ushers or the chief usher never got overtime. But you had a job to do, and it was putting a face on America that, when you have a foreign minister or foreign head of state, you wanna make sure the president and this country--that head of state leaves this country realizing that everything ran perfectly. And it was a great visit, and it facilitated maybe some major decisions in the Oval Office because of the whole experience of being there. So we took the job very seriously.