If anyone needs anything at the aviation unit of United States Coast Guard Base Kodiak, it likely goes across the desk of Petty Officer Third Class Karlee Issacs. As a storekeeper, she’s responsible for procuring anything anyone needs, from airplane parts to the hundreds of blue pens her co-workers use and lose every year.
“If someone needs something at the unit, I enjoy procuring what they need or finding it in the warehouse,” she said. “There’s nothing like when a cool part or tools or something someone was really looking forward to receiving comes in and you get to give it to them. Their eyes light up.”
It’s not an easy job. Getting things to Alaska takes time, effort and organization.
“We don’t get same-day shipping here,” Issacs said.
In March, she received the Chief Financial Officer Award for Excellence for Enlisted Personnel E-6 and below recognizing her contributions managing the unit’s fuel account. That’s not usually her job, but she stepped up and filled the role for six months, and did it well enough to be recognized by her superiors.
Issacs grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. Boats were a big part of her family, and after high school she knew she wanted to join the Coast Guard or the Navy.
“I just like boats. I like being on the water,” she said.
The Navy, with its monthslong postings at sea, wasn’t quite the life she was looking for. So the Coast Guard it was.
Issacs came to Kodiak after finishing Coast Guard Storekeeper “A” School, and before that she tended buoys in New York Harbor. Her posting at the Kodiak Base was Storekeeper 3rd class, or SK3 in Coast Guard lingo.
Working here wasn’t her first choice. She put down Hawaii and Florida first, but Kodiak grew on her.
“I wasn’t excited at first, but after being here and seeing what it’s actually really like, it’s actually really nice,” she said.
Issacs’ role changed about a year and a half later. Staff turnover left a position two ranks higher than hers open. It was a critical one too: ordering fuel for aircraft for Coast Guard District 17, which covers all of Alaska.
Just like it’s sometimes difficult to get supplies to this part of the world, it’s also difficult to get people here. Issacs filled the role for six months until a higher ranking storekeeper arrived. She supported airborne missions from Utqiagvik to the Aluetians.
“You pretty much deal with officers at airports around Alaska. And big money — fueling up aircraft takes a lot of money,” Issacs said.
All told, she managed $7.5 million. Handling all that money requires serious attention to detail. Getting one cent off on a 5,000 gallon fuel order can end up with the total being hundreds of dollars off.
“So that was pretty different. It’s a little intimidating,” Issacs said.
All told, she handled the fuel account for six months before someone else came in. It was her work with the fuel account that she got the award for.
“SK3 Isaacs expertly maintained accountability of all fuel card transactions and obligations for the largest account in District 17,” the text of the award read.
Now she’s back doing her old job, getting everything from the face masks everyone is required to wear on base to warm IV liquid that rescuers can pump into the veins of hypothermic people they pull from the sea.
Eventually, Issacs said she wants to retire as a chief warrants officer, which is one of the highest ranks on the path she is now. After her 20 years with the Coast Guard, she’d like to be a veterinarian, whether that means going to school while she’s with the Guard or after.
She’s made her mark here in Kodiak and might transfer out soon.
“Hopefully Hawaii’s next,” she said.