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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2021

Profiles in Professionalism: GM2 Leonardo Santos

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Marshall

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Leonardo Santos has not touched one gun while on four-year active duty orders at NOSC Great Lakes, IL. Instead, he has found himself helping families of Sailors who have passed away receive the honors they deserve.
“Having a role that gives me a way to impact the Navy and those who have served by giving them the honors they deserve gives me that drive I’ve never really had until now in the Navy,” said Santos.
In 1986, Santos joined the Navy as an Electrician’s Mate and served nine years on active duty. When he decided to get out of the Navy, he found the transition difficult.
“I got out in 1995. I moved to Skokie Illinois, I got a job as a production supervisor and thought to myself, I miss the Navy,” said Santos. “I love wearing the uniform so I went back in 1996 as a gunner’s mate [in the Navy Reserve].”
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks combined with a few years of traveling for drill weekends, GM2 Santos didn’t feel like he had a purpose in the Navy.
“I had hit high year tenure as an E5 and transferred to the VTU (Voluntary Training Unit) where on a drill weekend, I really didn’t do much. I had heard about funeral honors and wanted to give it a try,” said Santos. “Being a Funeral Honors Coordinator is the one job that made me feel like I had finally found a purpose in the reserves.”
Santos found that his new role representing the Navy finally made his time and service worth it.
“I have work to do every day; I assign funeral [duties], or I go out and perform the ceremonies myself,” said Santos. “Out of my whole time in the Reserve and while on active duty, besides 9/11 and doing my part as a GM, my role as Funeral Honors Coordinator has given me the most meaning and fulfillment.”