“I knew in the Coast Guard I would be presented with many opportunities to positively influence people of all ages and backgrounds.”
As a little boy growing up in southern New Jersey, Rodney Rios had a habit of sneaking into his father’s closet, trying on his “B” jacket and combo cover, then pretending he was an Air Force pilot.
Pretending, however, is something little boys do, and as Rodney grew older, he yearned for the real thing.
Eventually, he chose the Coast Guard not only to have the chance to be a pilot, but because of its humanitarian mission. Rodney wanted to be part of an organization in which he could ascend into a position of leadership, make a difference in people’s lives and be a role model within his community.
“Hard work, support from my family and dedication to superior performance were the key factors that enabled me to stay on path.”
In addition to Rodney’s plans of entering and graduating from flight school, he also had intentions of completing Officer Candidate School (OCS) and becoming an officer.
As an officer and a pilot, Rodney felt he would be in a position in which he could set an example for junior personnel and help them achieve their maximum potential.
Taking the long route, Rodney graduated from both flight school and OCS more than seven years after first entering the Coast Guard in 1994.
“As an officer and a leader, I have the ability to influence not only junior servicemembers, but senior as well.”
Rodney’s superiors and those below him recognize his ability to relate to his fellow servicemembers and typically seek him out for guidance and advice. Rodney embraces the role, believing that taking care of people and showing a genuine interest in their needs is the most critical key to their success and the success of a service unit.
“My intentions are to continue to further my education and to seek a postgraduate degree prior to retiring.”
Rodney also believes education has helped him to excel. And now that he is qualified in the HH-65C helicopter as an aircraft commander – and having already obtained his associate degree – he is focusing on completing a bachelor’s in management.
Rodney credits tuition assistance (TA) with lessening his financial burden of paying for college. Today, he promotes the TA programs to younger members of his unit; some of them have heeded his advice and have gone on to earn advanced degrees.
“For me, it is more about personal satisfaction than monetary compensation.”
From school lectures to airshow demonstrations to training younger personnel in the avionics field, Rodney is committed to reaching out and having a positive impact on those around him.
The ability to change someone’s outlook on life, his or her education or simply his or her aspirations is what inspires Rodney the most. Couple that with the fact that he is performing his current job as Group Atlantic City Public Affairs Officer – promoting the Coast Guard, dealing with the media and endorsing recreational boating safety – within 20 miles of his hometown, and life for Rodney doesn’t get any better or more rewarding.
Rodney’s Military Career Timeline
- November 1993: Recruit training at Training Center Cape May, N.J. (graduated as firefighter apprentice)
- February 1994: Stationed at Cape May, N.J. (certified as boat crewman and engineer on 41’ tank barge, 47’ motor lifeboat and 21’ rigid hull)
- November 1995: Aviation electrician’s mate Class “A” School (advanced to petty officer third class)
- April 1996: Designated as avionicsman instructor responsible for training at Air Station Cape Cod, Mass. (advanced to aviation maintenance technician second class and earned an associate degree via the University of Phoenix)
- April 2002: Stationed at Atlantic City, N.J. (promoted to lieutenant and selected to sit on College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative/Officer Candidate School Panel)