Kolby Skaflestad U.S. Navy 2008-Present

Chief Petty Officer Kolby Skaflestad has been awarded Sailor of the Year and has been awarded three Battle Excellence Awards and two Meritorious Commendations.

Kolby Skaflestad is a Sonar Technician, Submarine (coordinating submarine sonar and underwater fire control interface and performing maintenance on submarines and allied equipment), he is also the Chief Petty Officer serving a dual role as both technical expert and leader, with the emphasis on leadership.

He and his cousin Killian had been herring seining out of Sitka; Killian told him he had been talking to a Navy recruiter and Kolby thought it was something they both could.  They sat there moored up, bored “with nothing to do”, waiting for the herring opening to start.  He and Killian decided to talk to the recruiter together.  Then they flew to Anchorage.  None of the jobs interested Mr. Skaflestad. Then a First-Class Navy guy walked by, last name of Hardwick, who asked Mr. Skaflestad if he “ever thought about serving on a submarine?”  They talked about it and Mr. Hardwick convinced him that a submarine was the way to go.  He signed up that day.  Not too long after that, they shipped out together.  He was sold on the “buddy program” where he and his cousin Killian would be able to serve together, “you don’t get separated, stay in the same stations”.  However, they were sent to Chicago to fill out paperwork, immediately separated, rarely saw each other and after boot camp- and never saw each other again in the service.  “So much for the buddy system.”

Boot camp was a bit rough, coming from a small town surrounded by friends and family to an environment where he had no cell phone and was not allowed to leave base.  He did not know anybody, and he had some dark times.  Eventually things turned around, he could go off base and even met his “future wife”. 

He reported to USS Nebraska in November 2009, where he served as a member of the Sonar Division and held the position of First Lieutenant. During this tour, he earned his Submarine Warfare Qualification. Additionally, he completed 5 nuclear strategic deterrent patrols and was advanced to Sonar Technician Submarines 3d class and eventually Sonar Technician Submarines 2nd class. He completed the qualification of various supervisory watch stations to include Sonar Supervisor, Towed Array Handling Supervisor and Small Arms Supervisor. In May of 2013, he attended Journeyman Sonar Technician School. Upon completion, he transferred to Naval Submarine Support Facility New London (NSSF).

He was selected as the Naval Submarine Support Facilities Junior Sailor the Quarter for 4th Quarter 2014 and Junior Sailor of the Year 2014.

In regards to growing up in Hoonah, surrounded by his culture and taught Tlingit in elementary school, Mr. Skaflestad said “I do have a strong Native background… being brought up in the Native community I learned how to do things with deer hides and make drums and use the hooves to make rattles and knife handles from the antlers… that aspect causes you to be mature above your years... so when I was serving on a boat in the Navy and I was 19 or in my early 20s I was in charge of these divisions people who thought I was in my mid-thirties…”

His first deployment was on the USS Nebraska (SSBN-739), the 14th Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, from 2009 until 2013.  He then went back to the Naval Submarine Base New London, the United States Navy's primary East Coast submarine base, also known as the "Home of the Submarine Force" located in Groton, Connecticut for his, supposedly “career ending billet”.  It turned out to be a successful tour and he worked his way up.  He competed in multiple sailor competitions and was awarded the Junior Sailor of the Year in Virginia at the Admiral’s house. 

He returned to the USS Nebraska as the leading Petty Officer of the Sonar Division.  After two successful patrols, in 2015 he got selected to put on anchors and made Chief in 2018.  Mr. Skaflestad was then laterally transferred to the USS Pennsylvania another Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine that has been in commission since 1989.  He currently serves as the leading Chief Petty Officer for the Sonar Division. 

His personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards), Good Conduct Medal (2 awards), Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Service Defense Medal, Expert Rifle Medal, Expert Pistol Medal, Battle “E” Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, and various Flag letters of Commendation.

Kolby Skaflestad is the son of Jeff Skaflestad and Cynthia Bennett of Craig, Alaska