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Gen. Vincent Patton, III

Master chief petty officer Vincent Patton III was born on November 21, 1954 in Detroit, Michigan. Patton attended Cass Technical High School where he became an Eagle Scout and joined U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) James M. Hannan Division before graduating in 1972. Patton earned all of his college education while on active duty. He received his B.A. degree in communications from Pacific College Angwin, California in 1976 and his B.S. degree in social work from Shaw College in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Loyola University in 1979 with his M.A. degree in counseling psychology, Patton earned his doctorate in education degree from American University in Washington, D.C.in 1984. Patton’s advanced military education includes the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (with distinction), and the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

In 1973, Patton graduated from U.S. Coast Guard Radioman (communications) School and was assigned duty on board the USCGC DALLAS at Governors Island, New York. He also served as a radioman at the Coast Guard Group and Air Station in Detroit, Michigan and as a recruiter at the Coast Guard Recruiting Office, Chicago. In 1979, Patton changed his occupational rating from radioman to yeoman (personnel) and was assigned to the Ninth Coast Guard District Office in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended American University as the first enlisted member selected for graduate school where he earned his doctorate degree and wrote his dissertation on developing the Coast Guard Enlisted Performance Evaluation Program. After graduate school he served onboard USCGC BOUTWELL homeported at Seattle, Washington and later returned to Coast Guard Headquarters to become the first Coast Guard enlisted training manager. Following this assignment, Patton became the Command Master Chief for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area, based at Governors Island, New York where he was the senior enlisted advisor to Joint Task Force-160 deployed to Haiti and Guantanamo Bay Cuba during Operation Support Democracy.

Patton served as the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard from 1998 to 2002. He was the first African American to reach that rank in the U.S. Coast Guard. As the service’s highest ranking enlisted member, he served as the principal advisor to the Commandant of the Coast Guard, his directorates, the U.S. Secretaries of Transportation and Defense and the Commander-in-Chief. In 2002, Patton retired from the U.S. Coast Guard after thirty years of active service. He became an assistant professor at University of California Berkeley before working for Monster Worldwide as director of Government Partnerships and Alliances. Patton was later named vice president for Homeland Security Programs at AFCEA International.

Patton’s military honors include the Distinguished Service Medal; two Meritorious Service Medals, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, eight Meritorious Team Awards, and eight Coast Guard Good Conduct Awards. He also has earned the Cutterman’s Insignia and the Parachutist Jump Wings Badge.

8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vincent W. Patton III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 25, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.146

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/25/2013

Last Name

Patton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Middle Name

W.

Schools

American University

Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley

Loyola University Chicago

Pacific Union College

Shaw College

United States Army Sergeants Major Academy

Cass Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings, weekends. Available on weekdays provided his work schedule allows

First Name

Vincent

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

PAT09

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, teens, adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Only necessary travel expenses

Favorite Season

April

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Zealand

Favorite Quote

It is all good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

11/21/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Hamburgers

Short Description

Master chief petty officer Vincent Patton, III (1954 - ) became the first African American selected as the service’s senior-most enlisted ranking position as the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard in 1998.

Employment

AFCEA International

Military Advantage (Monster Worldwide)

Halley's Comet Foundation

University of California, Berkeley

United States Coast Guard

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vincent Patton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton talks about his mother's education and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton talks about his father joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton shares his father's war stories and tells how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vincent Patton talks about his father's career after the army and his oldest brother, Gregory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton talks about his younger sister, Viola

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton discusses his younger brother, Frank

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton speaks about his older sister, Stephanie

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton speaks about his younger brother, Francis

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton talks about his younger brother, Robert and his sister, Mary

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton discusses his younger sister, Catherine and brother, David

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton describes the neighborhood he grew up in

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Detroit, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Detroit, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton discusses his elementary, junior high and high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton recalls significant teachers and mentors from his elementary and junior high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton talks about being a boy scout

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton talks about the people who influenced him in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton remembers his high school teacher, Ms. Musson and the Detroit riots

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton talks about his maternal grandmother's involvement with the civil rights movement in Detroit

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton recalls two incidents of police harassment he experienced in Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton remembers attending the March on Washington in 1963, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton remembers attending the March on Washington in 1963, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton describes how he worked part-time for a jazz radio station

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton talks about notable musicians from his high school and his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton discusses black book stores, his senior year of high school and his graduation

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton explains how he joined the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton discusses his change in interest from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton explains what drew him to joining the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton describes his parents' response to him joining the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton describes his parents' response to him joining the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton talks about his interest in becoming master chief petty officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton talks about his interest in becoming master chief petty officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton discusses his training at radio school and his first assignment in the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton explains how his surveillance of Soviet spy vessels in the U.S. Coast Guard led to a personal commendation

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton describes the difficult time he had with a racist chief in the Coast Guard, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton describes the difficult time he had with a racist chief in the Coast Guard, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton talks about taking college courses in the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton speaks about Chief Wood's apology for his racist behavior

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton discusses his assignment at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton talks about how he obtained two degrees while in the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton describes meeting African American writer, Alex Haley

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton discusses the autograph he received from African American writer, Alex Haley

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Vincent Patton discusses his recruiting duties in the U.S. Coast Guard and enrollment in graduate school

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton talks about developing an enrichment program for the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton talks about being asked to revise the U.S. Coast Guard's enlisted evaluation system

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton describes the U.S. Coast Guard's enlisted evaluation system

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton discusses his mentors and teachers from graduate school

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton talks about his family and politicians, Harold Washington and Marion Barry

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton recalls the pressure he received about becoming an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton talks about his decision to return to sea and his assignment to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton explains why his best tour of duty in the U.S. Coast Guard was on the Boutwell

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton describes going on a drug interdiction, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton describes going on a drug interdiction, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton talks about his training management position

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton discusses his experience at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton discusses "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and his advocacy for gays in the military

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton discusses women and gays in the military

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton discusses his involvement with Operation Support Democracy and promotion to Command Master Chief for the Atlantic area

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton talks about being selected Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton shares highlights from his career as the 8th Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton shares highlights from his career as the 8th Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Vince Patton talks about the U.S. Coast Guard's assistance with clean-up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Vince Patton talks about the U.S. Coast Guard's assistance with clean-up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton reflects on his accomplishments as 8th Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton discusses his teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton talks about working part-time as the executive director for Haley's Comet Foundation

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton discusses Monster Worldwide, Inc.'s involvement with helping transitioning military personnel find jobs

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton discusses working together with Monster Worldwide, Inc. to help transitioning military personnel find jobs

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton talks about APCEA and his role as vice president of the association's Homeland Security department

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Vincent Patton discusses volunteering in Haiti after the 2011 earthquake and his community service focused ministry

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Vincent Patton comments on his retirement goals and APCEA's STEM scholarships for students

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Vincent Patton shares his thoughts on running for office and reflects on his regrets

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Vincent Patton talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Vincent Patton reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Vincent Patton talks about his son from his first marriage

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Vincent Patton talks about his daughter from his second marriage

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Vincent Patton talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Vincent Patton describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$9

DAStory

4$3

DATitle
Vincent Patton remembers attending the March on Washington in 1963, pt. 2
Vince Patton talks about the U.S. Coast Guard's assistance with clean-up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, pt. 1
Transcript
I just remember the adults who were walking were very much complaining and worried and things like that. My grandmother she kind of kept telling everybody to shut up and just walk (laugh). So we get to the mall area and so we miss the actual march because of the walk. So we get to the mall area where Dr. King is about to speak. When we get down to that area the first thing we try to do is inch our way as close as we could. So somewhere along the reflecting pool and my grandmother and the crowd that we were with said okay this is about as close as we are going to get. So we kids take off for the reflecting pool thinking that's a swimming pool and we are going to jump in. There was somebody out there telling everybody to get out of the pool. Of course, we jumped in the pool, kids were-they quit yelling at us, they gave us because there were too many of us. Right about the time when the event started, this is the thing that I remembered most. We got out of the reflecting pool quickly and with the how many thousands of people that were there. A hundred thousand or whatever number it was, but what I remember most is that it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop when Dr. King spoke. Now, again I couldn't tell you anything that I paid any attention to other than the fact that I looked about me and realized how everybody was just so quiet, how they were all facing in the direction toward the Lincoln Memorial and there were speakers out but we were so far back that we didn't--there weren't any speakers back--but you could hear almost as if you were right up there on the steps. Because today when I walk--I remember taking my kids to that very spot--somewhere around that spot many years ago and at the time that I did that, I was telling my kids the story, I looked down and saw how far away it was to the Lincoln Memorial but I felt at that time when I was kid that I was no more than ten feet. It just made me feel that way because of the just the energy and the fact that you know--his voice. To my dying day, I will never forget that moment. How magnetic it was and getting everybody really tied into the listening of that speech. And I feel honored to be one of the hundreds of thousands that were there although at that time that age I didn't quite understand it then but has time has gone on I grasp a little bit more about it. But that's a moment that I will never forget was being there.$The, probably the biggest thing that I think about the most is 911 because I was Master Chief of the Coast Guard during the time of 9/11. And within a couple of days after the, the Twin Towers were hit, Admiral [James] Loy, myself, we were in the Secretary of Transportation at the time, and, which was Norm Manetta and a few other people, we got on a plane. Well, of course, nobody could fly out anyway, except us. And we went up to New York. And this was like Day Three, I think. And, and I got to see the destruction of Manhattan. You know, it was still smoldering. It was, I remember the cloud, you know, just clouds of smoke were still there. And, you know, ash all over the place. I mean it was, I mean it was several feet of ash. I mean there were parts of Manhattan that was up to your knees of ash. And it, and it--when I walked the Ground Zero area there, and I mean as I tell the story, I can still smell it. I could still smell how it is, and, you know, and of course, I was stationed there twice before. So I, so I'm going into familiar turf here, and I know where such and such place was and so forth. In fact, I reenlisted in the Coast Guard on top of the World Trade Center. So, you know, so I knew a little bit about it. But here's a story that I don't know if many people talked about, that I keep in my head, is within a few blocks of the World Trade Center, stands this little church called the Trinity Church. It's located Rector Street, Rector and I think it's Broadway. I'm not sure, but Rector Street is the East-West street. And it's a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Now, everything around the World Trade Center was demolished, completely gone. It was rubble, it was piled--and it was literally piles of ash. Trinity Church, which by the way is--the graveyard of Trinity Church has the grave site of Alexander Hamilton, the father of the Coast Guard, lays and rests there. Admiral Loy went over--and I went over there. And we looked around and saw all the destruction of everything. And the graveyard certainly had debris as well as ash and so forth. And we took a look at the church. The church stood like nothing happened to it. It had one broken window as a result of a tree falling up against it. And, of course, it was covered with ash, but the church stood like nothing really happened to it.$$It's one of the lowest structures though in the area, right?$$Yes, yeah, right, it's one of the lowest structures. So you know where it is. So we, first of all, I remember looking at that in amazement, and I walked into the church and talked to the Vicar there, and he was, you know, of course, they--the church became an aid station as well 'cause there were people still in there that were being treated, firefighters and so forth. And as I walked out, Admiral Loy said to me, he said, he said, "Master Chief, why don't you get some people to clean up this church, okay?" And I said, "No problem." So I, I contacted my Command Master Chief for the New York area, and I said, "I need some volunteers." Get me some volunteers to come up, and I want the, I want the churchyard cleaned and do as much as you can around the church and so forth.