Commanding Officer's Biography
Aaron E. Waters
Commanding Officer, Leadership Development Center
Aaron E. Waters
Commanding Officer, Leadership Development Center
Captain Aaron “Muddy” Waters reported from Force Readiness Command Norfolk, VA, where he served as Chief of the Business Operations Division (FC-B) and assumed command of the Leadership Development Center on May 17, 2019. He is responsible for the execution and delivery of more than 22 accredited leadership courses to more than 8,000 students per year.
Captain Waters graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management. Upon receiving his commission, Captain Waters served as a Deck Watch Officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter BEAR in Portsmouth, VA. During his tour aboard BEAR, he served as First Lieutenant during multi-mission operations in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, & Eastern Pacific, culminating in his selection to Naval Flight School in 1996.
After earning his “wings of gold” in January 1998, he was assigned to Air Station Miami, where he led countless missions in the HH-65 helicopter across the Florida Straits. Returning to the Caribbean, he supported counter-drug and alien migration interdiction operations during 12 shipboard deployments. In 2002, he was assigned to Aviation Training Center Mobile, where he earned his Ship-Helicopter Instructor qualification and conducted training visits to every flight deck equipped cutter in the Coast Guard fleet. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and Greater New Orleans. Captain Waters piloted one of the first helicopters to respond in the Gulf Coast area. Flying through the night after the storm made landfall, CAPT Waters made numerous rescues along the Gulf Coast. Captain Waters continued to fly rescue missions that went on for nearly four weeks after Katrina‘s landfall. In January 2006, Captain Waters moved to the HH-65 Branch at ATC Mobile. He quickly earned his Instructor Pilot designation while assuming the duties as Branch Operations Officer during the challenging fleet transition from B to C-model of the HH-65 Helicopter.
In 2008, Captain Waters served as Chief of the Advanced Distributed Learning Branch of the Training Division of Force Readiness Command. In this role, he managed the Coast Guard’s distance learning, mandated training and simulation programs while leading a geographically distributed workforce of 45 designers. In 2010, he and his team received the Commandant’s Innovation Award for streamlining the Coast Guard’s Mandated Training Program. From 2012 until July 2015, Captain Waters was assigned as the Executive Officer of Air Station New Orleans, the busiest all-helicopter search & rescue unit in the Coast Guard. In 2015, CAPT Waters returned to the Coast Guard Academy where he served as the Cadet Training Officer and Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach until reporting to FORCECOM in 2017.
Captain Waters is a native of Carmichaels, PA and holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science in Aviation Operations from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Masters of Education in Instructional Systems from Penn State University. He has served multiple tours as an Instructor Pilot/Flight Examiner in all models of the MH-65 helicopter. His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (2), the CG Commendation Medal (4) and the CG Achievement Medal (2). Captain Waters was first ballot selectee to the CGA’s Athletic Hall of Fame and was inducted in October of 2014.
Captain Waters is married to the former Ms. Minna Fyke of Virginia Beach, and is the proud father of two, Cade and Erika Nelly.
Executive Officer's Biography
Executive Officer, Leadership Development Center
Commander David O’Connell entered the Coast Guard as a Direct Commission Officer in 1998 and currently serves as the Executive Officer of the Leadership Development Center.
Previously, Commander O’Connell served as Chief of Prevention, Sector Boston from 2014 to 2017. In addition to being a Prevention Officer, Commander O’Connell is also a Coast JAG Officer. Prior to Sector Boston, he was assigned to the U.S. Naval War College’s International Law Department instructing in the areas of maritime law enforcement, maritime security operations, and international law. From 2010-2012, Commander O’Connell was on a two year detail to the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section, where he prosecuted numerous vessel pollution cases against vessel owners and operators for violations of international and domestic pollution regulations. Previous to the Department of Justice, he was assigned to the Coast Guard’s Office of Maritime and International Law’s Prevention Law Group, where he worked on international law, ocean policy, marine safety and security, and environmental protection issues. As a junior officer, Commander O’Connell was assigned to Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach from 2002-2006, where he worked as a Coast Guard Marine Inspector and Marine Casualty Investigator. His first assingment was as a staff attorney at Maintenance and Logistic Command Pacific.
Commander O’Connell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of North Florida, and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
Command Master Chief's Biography
Jason D. Griffin
Master Chief, USCG
Command Master Chief, Leadership Development Center
Master Chief Jason Griffin assumed the duties as School Chief, Senior Enlisted Leadership Course and Command Master Chief at the Leadership Development Center, New London, CT in July 2018. Most recently, Master Chief Griffin served as the Gold Badge Command Master Chief for the First Coast Guard District headquartered in Boston, MA and the Seventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, FL.
Master Chief Griffin’s previous assignments include a prior tour of duty at the Leadership Development Center serving as Senior Enlisted Instructor in the Command and Operations Branch; Officer in Charge, CGC SAWFISH, Key West, FL; Officer in Charge, CGC SHEARWATER, Portsmouth, VA; Officer in Charge, Aids to Navigation Team, Key West, FL; Officer in Charge, CGC PENDANT, Boston, MA; CGC VIGILANT, Port Canaveral, FL; Executive Petty Officer, CGC POINT BONITA, Little Creek, VA; CGC MIDGETT, Seattle, WA; and Coast Guard Station Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Master Chief Griffin holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership (Summa Cum Laude) and is a distinguished graduate of the Chief Petty Officer’s Academy where he was awarded the “Spirit of the Chief” award. He is also a graduate of various service schools including the Coast Guard Senior Enlisted Leadership Course, the National Defense University Keystone Command Senior Enlisted Leader Course, and is certified as a Master Training Specialist.
Originally from Lindenhurst, New York, Master Chief Griffin enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in October 1992. His personal awards include the Navy League’s Douglas A. Munro Award for Inspirational Leadership for 1997, two Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals, five Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and two Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbons, all with the operational distinguishing device. In addition to various other personal and unit level awards, he wears the Officer in Charge Afloat and Ashore device for both Multi-Mission and Aids to Navigation specialties, the Permanent Cutterman and Coxswain Insignia, and the Command Master Chief (Gold and Silver Badge) insignia.