By Mike Merino
For 227 years, the U.S. Coast Guard had never had an African-American woman serve as an officer of any type.
That changed June 1, 1995, when now-Tampa resident Doris Hull broke that storied institution’s glass ceiling with her promotion from yeoman 1st class, all
the way to chief warrant officer.
For those who never served in the Navy or Coast Guard, warrant officers are skilled, single- track specialty officers. Their primary duty is to serve as technical
experts, providing expertise and guidance to commanders and organizations
in their fields.
Hull said her journey to this historic first began with a positive family
upbringing in Miami. One of eight children, her father owned a successful construction company which allowed the family to live comfortably.
“My mother only wanted boys, so I had to learn how to measure up quickly, and I did,” Hull said.
After achieving success in school and developing a positive attitude in life, Hull enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve in 1973 under the Direct Petty Officer Program as yeoman first class. At the time, she was married and had a daughter. Later she divorced.
Because of the work
and initiatives Hull
initiated, women are
now assigned to all
classes of Coast Guard
In 1978, after serving five years in the active reserves, Hull left her civilian job and accepted a two year active duty assignment at Coast Guard headquarters
in Washington, DC.
Just a year later, another momentous change occurred when Hull met a handsome chief warrant officer named Ron Hull at a bus stop.
“When I saw Doris, I had to find a way to introduce myself,” Ron said. “I was leaving town that night and I thought I`d never get this chance again. So, I
smiled, told her who I was and tore my name and address from the corner of one of my bank checks to show her I wasn’t a weirdo.”
Hull, laughing, said she first sized up her future husband as a “player.”
They married in January 1982.
Hull said her success and rapid progression in the Coast Guard was due to her ability to pass rigorous academic exams and handle difficult assignments, which
earned stellar reviews from superior officers.
When she left the active reserves in 1980 to integrate into the regular Coast Guard, she was forced to take a reduced rank, which meant a smaller
paycheck and a step in the wrong direction for this forward thinker.
She immediately created an aggressive
plan, working hard and smart to climb
through the ranks and shutdown the competition
from Coast Guardsmen with more service
time and awards.
After three years, she became the first enlisted
person to serve as the Women Afloat
Coordinator for Enlisted Personnel. Her personal
goal was to exceed the commandant`s
expectations, and she did.
With her numerous achievements and after undergoing rigorous testing and intense competition from many men, Hull achieved her lifetime goal of chief
Hull served in that capacity for 10 years, retiring
with 27 years of
service on February
for her historic
“I realized in life — those who are your friends are always there to hold you up and those who would try to put you down, well, they would be found out fast.”