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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2021

Profiles in Professionalism: ETC Jonathan Courtney

By Leslie Hull-Ryde, Military Sealift Command Far East

Keep questioning. Keep learning. Keep solving problems. Accomplish the mission.

That’s the charge Chief Radio Electronics Technician Jonathan Courtney gives his Sailors, peers and supervisors.

“Do not be afraid of rising to a challenge. It may seem intimidating at first, and yes mistakes will be made, but that is how one grows and develops,” the reservist with Military Sealift Command Expeditionary Port Unit 102 says.

“Keep learning and keep developing. You’ll never and cannot know it all. Use the resources available to you, and strive to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience you need to handle any task.”

He believes reservists’ flexibility and civilian skill sets are invaluable to mission accomplishment.

“You can have a great deal of satisfaction when working in your rate and marrying it with what you do in the civilian sector and vice versa. This combo makes you a better resource, and you provide quality service to both your employer and the Navy.”

When not in uniform, Courtney works for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Information Technology Division in New York. In that role, he applies many lessons learned while serving in uniform. Likewise, much of what he does in the Big Apple directly relates to what he does for the MSC and the Navy.

“The reserve community contributes in a major way because we are flexible and have a breadth of expertise in our civilian jobs. Our diverse experiences give our active duty counterparts some creative solutions which ultimately contribute to mission accomplishment.

“Speaking as a reservist myself, we bring experience from the civilian workforce to the fleet. This is especially true if the servicemember’s civilian skill set matches his or her rate. I’m fortunate to bring the IT skills I have from working as an IT computer associate for the Transportation Authority to the Navy and vice versa. It hones your skill sets by marrying your skills together,” the Long Island, New York, resident said.

For much of the last nine years, Courtney has served MSC, specifically managing parts of the communications programs and requirements. He is responsible for maintaining, repairing and ensuring the integrity of secure communications equipment and systems. Keeping these systems functioning properly is important, especially as his efforts make sure high-priority, emergent or classified messages are received and transmitted properly.

Courtney also trains Sailors at all levels to ensure all secure data-related policies and procedures are followed.

“At MSC, qualified individuals are needed to establish communications, maintain electronic storage and provide secure protection of ship records. Stated simply, this position establishes and maintains a system of electronic storage and telecommunications to protect data, both on and off ship and from ship-to-shore installations in theater.”

It can be a rather complex job, but paying attention to the small details that can make it more challenging ultimately makes it easier to tackle.

Courtney says this approach has been one he’s fine tuned during his career. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, he earned a bachelor’s degree in information security at Western Governors University in Millcreek, Utah. While in college and sailing with MSC, he developed his work ethic – one that the Navy has benefitted from for close to 20 years.

“I affiliated with the reserves in 2005 primarily because of the education benefits they provided for college. I planned to stay for one enlistment,” Courtney said.

“Looking back 16 years, I can say the Navy Reserve has offered me a lot more than that. “