Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Black Graduates of 2018 at The USCGA

Fifty Years after the Coast Guard Academy graduated its first African-American cadet, the Class of 2018 boasts the largest number of Black Graduates. In 1966 there was one, Ensign Merle James Smith, Junior from Baltimore, Maryland. In 2018 there are eighteen, among them Ensign Karida Harris, also from Baltimore, Maryland,shown below shaking the hand of Vice President Mike Pence, the Graduation Speaker.

Below, Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Paul Zukunft, stands proudly in the middle of this Black Tidal Wave of Ensigns.
As I observe and ponder this new phenomenon in Coast Guard and American History, I am left with some soul searching questions. I have a right to ask these questions because I dedicated a major portion of my Coast Guard Career to recruiting Black high school students for the Coast Guard Academy.

My first emotions are Joy, Happiness, and Pride. God is good, and He works in wondrous, even mysterious ways. In 1964 when I entered the Coast Guard Academy, I never would have dreamed that this day would ever come. We find ourselves on the threshold of a New Era in Coast Guard History. In 50 years I have seen the Coast Guard go from the horse and buggy phase to inter-planetary phase of travel in the area of Equal Opportunity, particularly where America's Citizens of Color are concerned.

The events of this past week have left me all warm and fuzzy about my Alma Mater. However, after seven Decades of living in America, and the last eight years of Fundamental Change under the previous Administration, I am hesitant to pop the champagne corks, just yet. The decades come and go, and the Ebb and Flow of History does not always take us where we think we are heading. The President who was supposed to stop the rise of the Oceans and bring us all together as a Nation of Americans, has left us more divided than at any time in my life. I spent my first 21 years under a System of Jim Crow Segregation where we acquiesced to a Political System called Separate But Equal.

 When the Supreme Court told us that "Separate" was inherently "Unequal", we looked to a day when America would be fully "integrated" into a Color-blind Society. We thought and prayed that Obama would be the final link in that chain. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Honest and objective critical thinkers today see that we were all hood-winked. I saw men and women, some of my high school classmates killed fighting for equal rights and full integration in the 1960s. Our Society was working towards Full Integration, not just De-segregation. But today, Black students at Harvard University are demanding a return to "Separate But Equal". How the worm turns!

(See, Above Twitter Post of Harvard Black Students' Separate Graduation 2018.)

This trend disturbs me very much. Obama was a Harvard Graduate. Many of our National Leaders are Harvard Alumni. I do not agree with most of their Liberal Leftist Policies and Opinions, but they impact all Americans. I accept the results of fair National Elections. We suffered under Obama and his twisted appointees for eight years. And I see what it has brought us; more divided that united, clamoring for separation rather than integration, separating into splinter group constituencies, and taking a giant step backwards in the area of Human Relation, American Style.

 So, what does this mean for the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2018, and this constant pigeon-holing of Coast Guard Officers? They were separate social and culture groups in 2014 when they entered the Academy. Their four years of training was designed to tear down barriers and to turn them into a unified Corps of Coast Guard Officers. They were to think alike, act alike, and be alike; they were to do everything except look alike, which is not possible. America wanted Coast Guard Officers, not Balkanized marine specialists with allegiances to separate groups in our Society. This constant separation into various superficial groups for statistical purposes does not bring us together as an American Society. It works against the idea of "E pluribus Unum".

When will these Graduates cease to be Black Coast Guard Officers or African-American Officers, and become simply Coast Guard Officers or just Officers?
 Starting at Swab Summer we strive to eliminate distinctions between the cadets. We try to put them through a four year cookie cutter training program that turns out exact replicas. I may be overstating it a bit, but that is the intention.
If all the other graduates are plainly and simply Coast Guard Officers, why must we consider these to be Black Officers or African-American Officers? We still hover in the shadow of “Separate But Equal”, knowing that Separate is inherently Unequal. Fifty years after Merle Smith graduated, Black Officers are still considered a separate and distinct specie.

I fear that not many will see my point. It is very subtle, and it takes old age and a lifetime of experiences as a Black Man in majority white America and a retired Coast Guard officer to perceive the distinction.  Also, a lot of world travel and exposure to other cultures and societies have helped to mold my opinion.

 I understand the need to be recognized, to be accepted into a group, and to be held in high esteem by your peers. I understand the need for keeping statistics and the desire to get credit for jobs well-done.
 For example consider Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. It is a theory in psychology proposed by  Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others. Humans need food, sleep, safety, love, and purpose.

We humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. For example, some large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs, and online communities. Some examples of small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues, and confidants. Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others.

Esteem needs are ego needs or status needs develop a concern with getting recognition, status, importance, and respect from others. All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value. Low self-esteem or an inferiority complex may result from imbalances during this level in the hierarchy. People with low self-esteem often need respect from others; they may feel the need to seek fame or glory. However, fame or glory will not help the person to build their self-esteem until they accept who they are internally.
How does one explain the need for the National Bar Association, NBA, when there is an American Bar Association, ABA? Perhaps they would not allow Black Attorney members or they would not recognize Black achievement.

 Why do we need a Black History Month, if American History is taught in school? (Assuming it is taught, AND the historians consider Black citizens to be Americans.)
What is the usefulness of praise or honor that you have to buy? If you have to write your own news stories to praise yourself, it is the same as recommending yourself for a medal , and writing the citation. It is fake, false, worthless. It is akin to the difference between making love to your wife versus paying a Hooker for commercial sex. The emotional content is different. One has meaning, soul satisfaction; while, the other merely scratches an itch.

If only Black Officers praise and respect you, are you truly respected lord honored? If only the Black Community praises and respects you, are you truly honored? These officers deserve the praise and respect of the overall American population; as Coast Guard Officers, not as a sub-category of Officer.

 The American Dream is to become an American, not an American version of what we were. When America first allowed Immigrants to come to America, Immigrants forbade their children to learn the language of the Old Country; instead they were forced to learn American/English.
 Assimilation is the American ideal, the Dream. When Black high school graduates assimilate into the USCG Officer Corps, when they join the Long Blue Line, they become Coast Guard Officers, not Black Officers or African-American Officers. Separate But Equal is not full Integration. It is only De-Segregation.
 These officers are “stigmatized “ at birth; that is to say, at graduation. The men and women out in the Field of the Coast Guard are being told these officers are different. Black Officers need to be Assimilated, not separated. Taking them aside and photographing them is almost like a "Perp Walk".

I would give these Black Officers some advice. When they report to their First Duty Stations they should avoid all activities identified as Black Only. They should forget that they are Black, and stop thinking Black. They should become American first and Coast Guard second. They should leave their Blackness at home in the morning, go to work and be a good Coast Guard Officer. They should never again think of themselves as Black Officers. They are Coast Guard Officers. When they retire they can go back to being Black, if possible.

 They should hang around with the other Officers, and the chiefs. I know Birds of a feather, flock together. But, a bird does not cease to be a bird if he spends some time with Lions, or Elephants or even Snakes. He already knows how to fly. Other birds cannot teach him anything he doesn’t already know. But a Lion could teach him how to have heart and be a King. An Elephant could help him improve his memory. Hanging around snakes could teach him subtlety and other socially unacceptable traits that would serve him well when evil doers seek to take advantage of him. My advice to the Class of 2018 is to be as wise a Serpents, but as harmlessly Doves.

This type of mind control and discipline is not much different from what a Judge must do when he puts on his Black Robe. He must shed his biases, prejudices, and other human foibles. While he is on the Bench he must pretend to be a god, and act totally objectively. Hypothetically, a Black Panther Judge should be able to fairly Judge the Case Of even a KKK Wizard.


Monday, April 30, 2018

John Bastek

Captain John A. Bastek USCG (Retired)

1946 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Captain John A. Bastek USCG (Retired) Obituary
Bastek, USCG Ret., Captain John A. Spring Lake, Michigan Captain John A. Bastek, USCG Ret. age 71, of Spring Lake passed away Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at Heartwood Lodge. He was born September 30, 1946 in Paterson, New Jersey to Stanley and Eileen (Doran) Bastek. On March 13, 1971 he married Susan Henry in Cape May, New Jersey. John was a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. and University of Miami School of Law. He served in the Coast Guard for thirty years, his assignments included tours as a ship's officer (including two as ship's captain), he was an attorney, a military judge, and did several tours in administrative positions. His last assignment was as Chief of Staff of the Ninth Coast Guard District (the Great Lakes) retiring in 1998. He was an avid baseball player and a fan of all sports. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He is survived by his loving wife Susan; two sons, Neal (Susannah) Bastek and Ian (Stephanie) Bastek; four grandchildren: Silvia and Emmett Bastek, and Ayden and Owen Bastek; sister, Barbara Proden; brothers: William (Marilyn) Bastek, Robert (Patricia) Bastek, and Stephen (Helen) Bastek; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Stan and Eileen; brother-in-law, Joseph Proden. A memorial service with military honors will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, March 10, 2018 at The VanZantwick Chapel (620 Washington Ave) with Rev. Daniel Anderson officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Memorial contributions in memory of John may be given to Little Red House. Please sign the family's' online guestbook at
Published in Grand Rapids Press on Feb. 25, 2018


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Inclusion or Exclusion

First African-American vice admiral in Coast Guard kicks off Academy diversity week

Brown got buy-in from his boss, Kathryn D. Sullivan, who decided to make it an agencywide priority to come up with a strategy to make NOAA more diverse and inclusive.
NOAA officials looked deeper into employee morale surveys. The responses, on their face, generally were good, better than the federal average. But after examining them more closely, serious concerns related to employees' views about top leadership and middle management were discovered, Brown said. A majority of women and people of color were concerned about diversity and recruitment.
Starting with top leadership, the agency started engaging in crucial conversations about diversity and inclusion "that spread like wildfire throughout the organization," he said. Younger employees were engaged and played a crucial role throughout the process. A robust feedback system was established.
"If you do not intentionally, deliberately and proactively include, you will unintentionally exclude," Brown said, quoting diversity consultant and author Joe Gerstandt.
Brown brought that message Friday morning to a full Leamy Hall Auditorium, where cadets, staff, academy leadership and guests gathered to kick off the 42nd annual Eclipse Week, which focuses on diversity, inclusion and mentorship. This year's theme is "Embracing a Community of Respect."
Coast Guard leadership tends to "take a 'mission first, people always' approach. ... and the outstanding mission results we achieve signal to us that our leadership is effective," he said. The "people metrics are generally good," he added, so there's often no efforts to do a deeper analysis that might point to cultural concerns.
Middle managers, on the other hand, tend to focus on day-to-day challenges, and don't believe they have the resources to help change culture. They're reluctant to think change will happen because "so many change strategies come from on high that never produce real results," Brown said.
Employees don't always trust that leadership has a basic understanding of what's happening at their level or that anything will be done to address concerns, so often they choose not to say anything, he said.
"For individuals in underrepresented groups, these challenges are often magnified," Brown said.
He advised that these challenges can be overcome by organizations taking a strategic approach to look at culture. He pointed out that experts say there's a direct link between organizational culture and organizational performance, and that it takes 7 to 10 years for organizational change to firmly take hold.
As for the cadets, Brown encouraged them to call out offensive behavior and to engage in meaningful dialogue when it happens. To those who may be hesitant to speak up, there's safety in numbers, he said.

Published April 06. 2018 5:57PM

By Julia Bergman  


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Life by Judge London Steverson

Judge London Steverson has written the story of his life. Trying to write a book about my life is like trying to describe the landscape by looking out the window of a moving train. The events continue to unfold faster than one can describe them. My life is a work in progress. For this reason I have decided to look at my life in phases that have a clearly defined beginning and an end. In this book I intend to describe that part of my life that was shaped by my involvement in the Martial Arts.

I, London Eugene Livingston Steverson retired from the United States Coast Guard in 1988 as a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR). Later, I retired from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as the Senior Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Office of Disability Appeals and Review (ODAR) Downey, California.
In 1964, I was one of the first two African Americans to receive an Appointment as a Cadet to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. I graduated in 1968. After two years at sea on an Icebreaker, the USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), and another two years as a Search and Rescue Operations Officer in the 17th Coast Guard District Juneau, Alaska, I was appointed Chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section in the Office of Personnel at Coast Guard Headquarters, 7th and D Street, SW, in Washington, DC. My primary duty was to recruit Black High School graduates for the Coast Guard Academy. This was my passion, so I set about this in a most vigorous manner.
I have written several books concerning Military Justice, famous Courts-martial Cases, and Social Security Disability Determination Cases. I am a retired member of the New York State Bar Association, The Association of The Bar of The City of New York, and The Tennessee Bar Associations.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Harry Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948, but the military academies lagged far behind in officer recruiting.
President John F. Kennedy specifically challenged the Coast Guard Academy to increase appointments to qualified Black American high school students.
I was one of the first Black High School students to be offered such an appointment in 1964. I had a Black classmate from New Jersey, Kenny Boyd. We would become known as "The Kennedy Cadets", because the pressure to recruit us originated with President John F. Kennedy.
On June 4, 1968, I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
My first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 I reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy. I served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. I traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station.
In 1974, while still an active duty member of the Coast Guard, I entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University. I graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.
I worked as a Law Specialist in the 12th Coast Guard District Office, San Francisco, California and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney for the collection of Civil Penalties under the Federal Boating Safety Act from 1979 to 1982. As Assistant District Legal Officer, I was required to defend as well as prosecute military members who had been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Occasionally I was asked to represent other officers in administrative actions involving sexual harassment and discrimination. One such case was the Case of Christine D. Balboni . 

 Ensign (ENS) Balboni was one of the first female graduates of the Academy, Class of 1981. She filed the first case of Sexual Harassment case in the military.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Represented Cadet Webster Smith

(Above Ronald C. Machen, a Partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Door, was the Appellate Defense Counsel for Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith, the first cadet to be punished by court-martial at the Coast Guard Academy in 2006. Cadet Webster Smith is an African American Black.)

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP


Monday, August 28, 2017

What's Your Story? LLS, Revised

London Steverson

London Eugene Livingston Steverson is a retired Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). He is known as being one the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy. Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the Coast Guard, he was charged with recruiting minority candidates as a means of desegregating the Coast Guard Academy. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988. In 1990 he was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration. He is author of seven books and a member of the New York State, New York City, and Tennessee Bar Associations.[1]


Early life and education

Judge Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson. They were London EuGene, Gary Anthony and Karen Yvonne.
                                         (London EuGene (above, right) and Gary Anthony)
                                                   (Above, Karen Yvonne Steverson)

Even at the age of 13, Steverson was pursuing the Greek Ideal of a strong mind in a strong body.
He was ready for the rigorous regimen he would face at the Coast Guard Academy.

He is a 1964 graduate of Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee where he graduated valedictorian.[2]

                            (London Steverson's High School Graduation photo in 1964.)

      (A family photo taken in December 1964 at the Blue Light Studio, Memphis, TN.)

A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948,[3] but the service academies lagged in officer recruiting.

President Kennedy specifically challenged the Coast Guard Academy to increase appointments to qualified black high school students.

Steverson was one of the first to be offered such an appointment in 1964, becoming the second African American to enter the previously all-white military academy. He had a Black classmate from New Jersey, Kenny Boyd. They would become known as "The Kennedy Cadets", because the pressure to recruit them originated with President John F. Kennedy.

On June 4, 1968, Steverson graduated the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and a commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.[4]
In 1974, while still an active duty member of the Coast Guard, Steverson entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University. He graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.[5]


U.S. Coast Guard

Operational Assignments

Steverson's first duty assignment was the Antarctic research logistical support vessel USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4), where he served as Deck Watch Officer and head of the Marine Science Division Officer.
(Above is CGC Glacier (WAGB-4) as she appeared in 1968-1972. Two Navy Flight Crews were onboard. Steverson flew on the helicopters from the ship to McMurdo Station to pick up the mail several times.)
He deployed to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, Operations Deep Freeze. He noticed how difficult it was to see the ship below in the ice because it was painted white. Only the Flight Deck was black, and that was less than a third of the ship in length.
In the After Action Reports, Steverson recommended that consideration be given to painting the vessel a bright International Orange color in order to render it more visible in the Antarctic pack ice.

(Above, the USCGC Glacvier with a new coat of paint, in International Orange.)

Some years later the recommendation was adopted, CGC Glacier was painted International orange.

Aside from standing 4 hours watches as The Officer of The Day and breaking ice, his duties were to support the research operations of the USARPS (United States Antarctic Research Project Scientists) and the (NSF) National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station.
         (Sailing into the ice fields at Antarctica for the first time was a Defining Moment.)

The USARPS were comprised of leading scientists in the field of Oceanography from prominent American universities and leading universities around the World. They were under the command of a Coast Guard Officer, CDR Jim Seabrooke. The scientists had good senses of humor. They joked that USARPS really was an abbreviation for Useless Scientific And Ridiculous Projects.
Bob Dale was in charge of the NSF crew. He was assisted by Norman and Susie Bruer. They commanded a NSF research vessel and worked out of Punta Arenas, Chile.

During the 1969 patrol Glacier responded to a request for assistance from the Argentine icebreaker General San Martin, which had become beset in the ice. With Glacier's assistance, General San Martin was freed.
His next assignment was at Coast Guard District Seventeen in Juneau, Alaska from 1970 to 1972 as a duty Search and Rescue (SAR) officer. Steverson was the duty SAR officer on September 4, 1971 when an emergency call was received that an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 airline passenger plane was overdue at Juneau airport. This was a Saturday and the weather was foggy with drizzling rain. Visibility was less than one-quarter mile. The aircraft was en route to Seattle, Washington from Anchorage, Alaska with a scheduled stop in Juneau. There were 109 people on board and there were no survivors. Steverson received the initial alert message and began the coordination of the SAR effort. In a matter of hours the wreckage from the plane, with no survivors, was located on the side of a mountain about five miles from the airport. Later a full investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was equipment failure.

  (Above, see USCGC Storis moored alongside teh Soviet F/V LAMUT on January19, 1972.)

Steverson was involved during the seizure of two Soviet fishing vessels, the F/V Coljvan and the F/V Lamut for illegal fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
 In a dramatic law enforcement action, on January 17, 1972, USCGC STORIS found two Soviet fishing vessels within the territorial waters of the United States. Radar picked up the two vessels inside the protective zone and upon further investigation, STORIS found the 278-foot fishing vessel, KOLJVAN offloading its catch to the 362-foot fish processor LAMUT in violation of U.S. laws. STORIS sent armed boarding parties aboard each of the Soviet ships and ordered them to the naval base in Adak, Alaska.
The initial attempts at seizing the Soviet vessels almost precipitated an international incident when the two vessels refused to proceed to a U. S. port, and instead sailed toward the Kamchatka Peninsula. Soviet Air Force MIG fighter planes were scrambled, as well as U.S. fighter planes from Elmendorf Air Force Base before the vessels changed course and steamed back toward Alaska, where the U.S. Attorney from Anchorage was waiting to prosecute the vessels.
Taking advantage of his icebreaker experience, Steverson was also assigned as the Seventeenth District's first collateral duty Ice Operations Officer. With the increased activity around Point Barrow and on the North Slope of Alaska brought on by the discovery of the vast oil reserves, more Coast Guard icebreakers were making patrols north of the Bering Sea.

USCG Minority Recruiting

In July 1972, Steverson was reassigned from Alaska to Washington, D.C. to become the Chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the Coast Guard, and was charged with working toward desegregating the nearly all-white Officer Corps, starting with the United States Coast Guard Academy. From 1876 until 1962 the Academy had not admitted any African-American cadets. One graduated in 1966, two graduated in 1968 (including Steverson) and one graduated in 1970. After that none were admitted until Steverson was placed in charge of the national recruiting effort. As the second minority cadet to enter and graduate from this institution, Steverson was offered this newly created assignment.
He traveled the country looking for qualified minority high school students who could compete for admission. Since the Coast Guard Academy is the only one of the United States military academies that does not require a Congressional appointment, and admission is strictly on the basis of the Scholastic Aptitude Test with additional consideration of extra-curricular involvement, minority applicants stood a better chance of being admitted to the Coast Guard Academy than to Annapolis, West Point or the Air Force Academy.

His efforts were rewarded in 1973 when 28 Black cadets were sworn into the Class of 1977, and again in 1974 when 20 Black cadets were admitted as part of the Class of 1978. It was from these cadets that the Coast Guard's first African-American officers of flag rank were to come in the 1990s; officers such as Captain Joseph Jones, Rear Admiral Errol Brown and Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown.[6]
While Steverson was charged first and foremost with recruiting cadets for the Coast Guard Academy (because that is where the bulk of the career officers came from), he was also requested to find minority college graduates who were willing receive direct commissions as lawyers and as aviators. These officers were already college graduates and had no need to attend the four year Academy, instead received a three-month orientation at the Coast Guard Officer Training Center.

He recruited several people from the Vanderbilt University Law School.
After serving two years in this position, he was replaced by the Academy's first graduate from Guam, Juan Tudela Salas.[7]


The Coast Guard does not have a separate Judge Advocate General's (JAG) staff corps. Coast Guard lawyers were referred to as "law specialists".

These law specialists were line officers who had passed the bar exam who would rotate out of Coast Guard legal billets. Frequently these "out of specialty" tours were in law-related areas.
Steverson worked as a Law Specialist in the 12th Coast Guard District Office, San Francisco, California and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney for the collection of Civil Penalties under the Federal Boating Safety Act from 1979 to 1982. As Assistant District Legal Officer, he was required to defend as well as prosecute military members who had been charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Occasionally he was asked to represent other officers in administrative actions involving sexual harassment and discrimination.

One such case was the Case of Christine D. Balboni against the Department of Transportation and the United States Coast Guard (DOT Case No. 82-177). Ensign (ENS) Balboni was one of the first female graduates of the Coast Guard Academy. She graduated in the Class of 1981 and was assigned to USCGC Rush, a high endurance cutter stationed in Alameda, California. She filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against three senior officers onboard RUSH. She alleged that false special fitness reports had been written concerning her and that the captain of the ship had requested her immediate transfer off the ship long before her normal rotation date.

After no other lawyer would take her case, CDR Ronald Mathews, Chief of The 12th District Legal Office, assigned LCDR Steverson to represent ENS Balboni in a formal departmental administrative hearing before a federal administrative law judge. The charges made by ENS Balboni were determined to be valid. The relief granted was to have the false special fitness reports removed from her service record and destroyed. She was promoted to the next higher rank. While her career was saved, no disciplinary action was ever taken against the offending officers.[8]
Steverson next served a four-year tour of duty as the Chief Marine Investigating Officer[9] at Marine Inspection Office in Battery Park, New York from 1982 to 1986. This job was similar to that of a city prosecutor. With a staff of ten investigating officers, he oversaw the investigation of marine casualties for negligence and causes of action. Any marine personnel found to have violated a marine safety law would be charged and tried before a Coast Guard Administrative Law Judge at the World Trade Center.

In the case of a major marine disaster with multiple loss of life, a formal Board of Inquiry would be convened under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). These Inquiries often would result in promulgation of new marine safety regulations under Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
One such incident was the Case of The Joan LaRie III, a charter fishing vessel that sank of the coast of New Jersey on October 24, 1982.[10] On Sunday, October 24, 1982, the charter fishing boat Joan LaRie III was returning from a sport fishing trip when it was struck by a big wave about 8.5 nautical miles east of Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey,  about 11:16am. The boat was swamped, and about 11:46 it sank. Of the 22 persons onboard, both crew members and 4 passengers were drowned; 2 passengers were missing and presumed dead.
Steverson represented the Government at a formal Board of Inquiry was convened under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine the cause of the incident. It was determined to me mechanical failure. One of the local divers who took part in the rescue and investigation was given a Coast Guard Commendation Award. He was Patrick Yannaton.

In 1986 he was detailed to the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System (NNBIS) under the Office of Vice President at the time, George H. W. Bush.

When he retired in 1988 he became the first African-American Coast Guard Academy graduate to retire as a regular line office from the United States Coast Guard.

Steverson worked in the World Trade Center (WTC) for 2 years in Room 313. His DD-214 Certificate of Discharge from the military lists his last Duty Station as NNBIS at the WTC, New York, NY.


One can easily imagine his emotional trauma on September 11, 2001 when he watched in horror as others who still worked in the WTC jumped without parachutes from the 100th Floor and above to their deaths on the sidewalk below. It is easily understandable that he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome (PTSD) as he watched the bodies pile up by the hundreds on the pavement below. People jumped to their certain deaths rather than face the white hot flames and let themselves be bar-b-qued or roasted alive. 

LT Steverson had been promoted to the Rank of (O-4) Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in 1978. He was in the Zone for promotion to Commander (CDR) six or more times between 1978 and 1988. Captain John Eckmann was his Commanding Officer at MIO, New York. As such, it was CAPT Eckmann's duty to formally advise him each time he was eligible for promotion but was not selected for the next higher rank. These were private meetings.  

Four times between 1982 and 1986 CAPT Eckmann made that annual trek to LCDR Steverson's Office to tell him that the Selection Board had decline to advance him to the next higher rank. CAPT Eckmann was apologetic and dumbfounded because he had given Steverson the highest ratings possible on the regular Officer Evaluation Forms. According to the OERs, Steverson could "walk on water", but yet the Coast Guard High Command was determined that Steverson would never again rise in rank. Obviously there were forces at work that neither was aware of. If one were to consider that for the last two years he was on active duty, he was directed to submit a urine sample for every unit drug test, a picture would begin to unfold. The Tests were supposed to be "random". For Steverson, they were required. It appears that someone had a score to settle with LCDR Steverson, or perhaps someone was determined to do all in their power to ensure that Steverson did not became the first African-American Coast Guard Academy graduate to retire as a regular line office from the United States Coast Guard. He held the rank of Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) during his last 10 years of service.[11]

Social Security Administration

He initially retired to Dumont, New Jersey and practiced law in New York, with a focus on family law and defending Coast Guardsmen accused of violating the UCMJ or of federal crimes.

In July 1990 he was appointed a federal administrative law judge by the Social Security Administration during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

 He was assigned to the Ninth Region of the Social Security Office of Hearings and Appeals in California.[12] He resided in Downey City, CA, where he was president of the Downey Sister City Association for seven years, and an International Peace Ambassador.


In April 2009 he retired from the Social Security Administration Administration and devoted himself to philanthropic endeavors.
The Steverson Collection at and the Steverson Collection Book Club[13] were his major attempts to improve literacy and to spread American culture in the non-English speaking countries of Europe. He donated his extensive personal collection of new, used, and rare English books to the American Corners of Hungary. In April 2009 he was awarded the Cultural Diplomacy Award by the American Ambassabor. He is married and divides his time between the United States and Hungary where he provides technical advice to the American Corner of the U. S. Embassy for the Steverson Collection and the Steverson Collection Book Club. [14]


Awards and decorations

The State Department Cultural Diplomacy Award is designed to honor distinguished representatives of American culture whose efforts and artistry advance America's goals of mutual understanding and the deepening of friendship between the United States and others.



1. Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon 2. Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon 3. National Defense Service Medal 4. Antarctic Service Medal 5. Coast Guard Sea Service Ribbon 6. USCG Expert Rifle Ribbon 7. USCG Expert Pistol Ribbon.





  • "Who is London Steverson?", Omnilexica, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

    1. "Alum pens book about Social Security System", USCGA Alumni Association, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

    External links

    • Integration of the Armed Forces 1940-1965, chapter 20 Limited Response to Discrimination - includes info about President John F. Kennedy's personal involvement with the first attempts to desegregate the USCG Academy, which was a direct cause of London Steverson's admission into the Academy.
    • "PROMISES, PROMISES: For blacks, Coast Guard Academy numbers lag despite decades of effort", Fox News, September 8, 2010, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.
    • "Notable Alumni", List of George Washington University People, George Washington University Wiki, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

    Five Drowned As Fishing Boat Capsizes Off Jersey Shore, New York Times, 25 Oct 1982.


    POINT PLEASANT, N.J., Oct. 24— Five men drowned and three others were missing and presumed lost today when a chartered fishing boat with 22 people on board foundered in choppy Atlantic seas. The 50-foot boat capsized within sight of the New Jersey shore about 40 miles south of New York City.
    The boat's captain and the mate were among the dead, and the cause of the sinking - which occurred while small-craft warnings were posted for mariners - was not immediately known, the Coast Guard said.
    Some survivors, however, told of a huge wave that appeared suddenly and struck broadside on the starboard beam, rolling the boat and her towering flying bridge onto her port side and hurling passengers and crewmen into the water.
    Two Survivors on Critical List
    Fourteen people, including one woman, were rescued. Two were in critical condition from the effects of submersion and exposure suffered in heaving, 55-degree seas as survivors watched their stricken vessel, the Joan La Rie III, slowly ship water and sink about eight and a half miles east of Point Pleasant at about 11:30 A.M.
    The survivors clung to life preservers, seat cushions, doors and other floating debris in six-foot swells and winds over 20 miles an hour. After up to 90 minutes in the seas, they were hauled aboard Coast Guard patrol boats and helicopters and the lifeboats of a passing Brazilian freighter and rushed to hospitals in Point Pleasant and Neptune.
    With hundreds of people on similar fishing excursions today off the Jersey Shore, hospitals were deluged with telephone calls from worried friends and relatives.
    ''Thank God, I'm alive,'' said Vincent Mezzetti, 40 years old, of Warwick, N.Y., whose 20-member group, the Gaelic Cultural Society of Greenwood Lake, had chartered the 35-passenger vessel at Point Pleasant Beach for a bluefishing day trip.
    Mr. Mezzetti said that a wave much larger than the swells struck the boat broadside and ''it gently turned the boat over on its side.'' Those on deck were pitched into the water, he said, and everyone in the cabin was carried out in the powerful backwash of the wave, which also tore off the cabin door and sent it adrift.
    Rafts on the fishing boat were lashed down, so the people in the water grabbed and clung to other debris, including life preservers, ice coolers and seat cushions.
    ''Some of them,'' Mr. Mezzetti said, ''were hanging on to pillows that floated off the boat. Some stayed on the boat, but others swam away because they were afraid they would be taken under when it sank.''
    ''Basically, it was every man for himself, but there was no panic,'' he said. ''People were saying, 'Let's try to stay together.' ''
    Mr. Mezzetti found his 15-year-old son, James, in the water, and together they clung to the door for about 90 minutes. ''My main concern was keeping the two of us together,'' he said. ''It was bloody awful cold.''
    Six people rescued from the water were taken by helicopter to the Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. Five were pronounced dead on arrival. They were Capt. Charles Housley, 55, of Ridgewood, N.J., the master; Walter Meisenbacher, 55, of Bricktown, N.J., the mate; Nicholas Santopietro, 61, of Greenwood Lake, N.Y.; Frank Jackson, 38, of Middletown, N.Y., and Thomas Nolan, 55, of Southfields, N.Y.
    The sixth person taken to the Jersey Shore hospital, John Sullivan, 43, of Hamburg, N.J., was reported in critical condition. Of 13 people taken to Point Pleasant Hospital, one, 7-year-old John Gorman Jr., was in critical condition and three others were admitted in guarded condition. Nine others were treated for exposure and released.
    The fishing trip had begun before dawn as 19 men and boys and one woman from the Gaelic Cultural Society left their homes in the vicinity of northern New Jersey's border with New York about 3 A.M., and drove to Point Pleasant Beach to meet the boat that had been chartered by John Gorman Sr. of Greenwood Lake.
    It was 6 A.M. when the Joan La Rie III shoved off, bound for bluefishing grounds 10 to 15 miles offshore. ''It was very, very rough going out,'' Mr. Mezzetti recalled. ''Half the passengers got sick. We weren't even aware of the smallcraft warnings. The fishing was very good. I got seven, and one passenger got 26 bluefish.''
    At about 10:45 or 10:50 A.M., with most of the fishermen satisfied, Captain Housley headed back toward shore. The swells were five to six feet at the time, Mr. Mezzetti said, and many passengers were sick. About four or five were on deck, and the rest were in the cabin.
    Then the big wave hit, pitching most of those on board into the water, and the scramble to stay afloat began. Carol Gorman of Greenwood Lake, the only woman aboard, managed to cling to the side of the overturned fishing vessel until the boat sank.
    The fishing boat had been swamped and overturned so quickly that there was no time to radio for help. But seamen aboard a passing Brazilian freighter, the Itape of Rio de Janeiro, spotted the capsized boat and people in the water and radioed for aid. The highfrequency signal was picked up by the Coast Guard in Boston and relayed to New York. Helicopters Aid in Rescue
    Three Coast Guard helicopters from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, and three Coast Guard patrol boats stationed at Jersey Shore points were sent to the scene.
    In a series of rescues, survivors were hauled aboard lifeboats from the freighter, then put into hawser slings and lifted into helicopters, which then ferried them directly to hospitals. Others were taken aboard Coast Guard vessels that sailed in to meet waiting ambulances.
    Some survivors had body temperatures of 94 degrees. They were wrapped in hypothermia blankets that use temperature-controlled liquid to restore normal temperatures slowly.
    Point Pleasant Hospital set up a triage operation in the main lobby with doctors, nurses and technicians giving treatment first to those survivors who needed it most urgently.
    Illustrations: map of New Jersey (page B2) photo of survivors being removed from helicopter (page B2) photo of boy who survived sinking being taken from helicopter.

    Thursday, January 19, 2017

    17 January 1972 - Russian fishing vessels LAMUT and KOLJVAN caught illegally fishing US waters, seized by STORIS

    In one of her more dramatic law enforcement missions, on January 17, 1972, STORIS found two Soviet fishing vessels within the territorial waters of the United States. Radar picked up the two vessels inside the protective zone and upon further investigation, STORIS found the 278-foot fishing vessel, KOLJVAN offloading its catch to the 362-foot fish processor LAMUT in violation of U.S. laws. STORIS sent armed boarding parties aboard each of the Soviet ships and ordered them to the naval base in Adak, Alaska. 

    While the ships were in route to Adak, LAMUT attempted to flee with the Coast Guard boarding party still on board. After an intense one-hour chase, STORIS’ CO, Commander William P. Allen, received permission from the commandant to fire a shot across the bow of LAMUT. STORIS sent a message to LAMUT that she was prepared to open fire and the Soviet vessel stopped. STORIS arrested both Russian masters and took them into custody aboard the cutter. All three ships arrived in Adak and charges were assessed against the two Russian ships.

    In the end, the Soviets paid $80,000 in fines and $170,000 in an out-of-court arrangement with the United States, marking an end to the event. Afterwards, the Coast Guard awarded STORIS with a Unit Commendation in Seattle. CDR Allen received a Meritorious Service Medal and the boarding party officers received Commendation Medals. After her dogged pursuit of the Soviet vessels, STORIS earned the nickname “Galloping Ghost of the Alaskan Coast.” 

      In the above photo USCGC Storis is moored alongside the Soviet F/V LAMUT.

  • "About: London Steverson", Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • Truman Library - Executive Order 9981

  • "Black cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy", Wikipedia, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Prominent Alumni by Field: Law", George Washington University Alumni, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Vice Admiral Manson Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard", Diversity Careers in Engineering and Technology, Winter 2013/Spring 2014, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Black cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy", Wikipedia, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Coast Guard Captain tells court of steamy sex at sea", Ottawa Citizen, February 22, 1984, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "INQUIRY ON SINKING ENDS WITH RESCUE TESTIMONY", New York Times, November 6, 1982, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Lieut. Comdr. London L. Steverson and Capt. Ronald C. Pickup appear during Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking of the vessel Joan La Rie III.", The Courtroom Sketches of Ida Libby Dengrove, 1982, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "African-Americans in Coast Guard History: A Historical Chronology", United States Coast Guard Historian's Office, Last Updated July 24, 2015, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Social Security Administration, Office of Hearings and Appeals", OHA Telephone Directory, September 2003, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "America Week 2015 - Steverson Collection Book Club", American Corner Hungary Veszprem, March 24, 2015, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Steverson Collection Book Club Celebrates 100th Session", Military Justice, November 2, 2011, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.

  • "Upcoming Programmes in the American Corner", University of Pannonia, October 14, 2011, Retrieved on August 30, 2015.  
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