Vincent W. Patton III, a native of Detroit, MI was born in 1954. During high school he was an Eagle Scout, a part of the Naval Sea Cadets Corps and after graduating in 1972 he enlisted in the Coast Guard. He began his career as a Radioman but in 1979 changed rate to Yeoman.
During his career he served at many units both afloat and ashore including a tour as the Command Master Chief for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area where he served as senior enlisted advisor during Operation Support Democracy, the largest alien migration operation in history. In May 1998 Patton became the first African American Master Chief in the history of the Coast Guard, the service’s top senior enlisted rank. He served as principal advisor to the Commandant of the Coast Guard as well as the secretaries of Transportation and Defense.
While serving in the Coast Guard he completed his education, earning his Doctorate degree in 1984 from the American University in Washington, D.C. In addition to his Doctorate he also holds a Masters Degree in Counseling a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
Master Chief Patton’s education also included U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, and the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. A highly decorated service member, he received several awards during his 30 year career including the Distinguished Service Medal. Not only is Master Chief Patton a permanent Cutterman (more than five years of sea service) but he also completed 10 jumps with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division becoming one of very few Coast Guardsman to do so and earn their “parachutist wings” specialty badge. Master Chief Patton retired on November 1, 2002 after 30 years but his education continued as he completed another Masters of Theology degree in Applied Religious Studies.
Even after retirement, service was a continuing theme in his life. Patton made missionary trips to Haiti and taught at-risk youth seamanship and sailing skills. He also continued to serve by volunteering with the USO to visit military members during the holiday season in the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia in 2003 and in Cuba in 2004.
He currently is still a very active member of the military community acting as Vice President for Homeland Security Programs with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) International, as well as serving as co-chair for the National Coast Guard Retiree Council.