PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. ‐ One Marine student here was recently recognized as the Department of Defense Language Professional of the Year.
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center student, Marine Sgt. Zachary Coates, is a Middle East Cryptologic Linguist who hails, from Kansas City, Kan.
Coates enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2006 and graduated from the Modern Standard Arabic Basic Course in August 2008. For his follow-on training, Coates was stationed with the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion in Fort Gordon, Ga.
In his time there, he provided support to the Global War on Terrorism and Overseas Contingency Operations, eventually deploying to a cryptologic support team in July 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Upon returning in January 2011, Coates assumed a squad leader position while resuming his support of Overseas Contingency Operations.
Coates explained that his duties did not allow him to practice his language skills while deployed with his team, and that it is generally difficult to retain language proficiency when that happens. However, he did retain proficiency, which was extremely beneficial to his unit when he returned.
Because of his outstanding performance, Coates received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in recognition of his selection as Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion Language Professional of the Year, as well as a Joint Service Achievement Medal, his second, for the beneficial impact of his work throughout his time at his unit.
Shortly thereafter, Coates was selected as the 2011 Marine Corps Language Professional of the Year, later being chosen as the 2011 Department of Defense Language Professional of the Year from among all four branches of the United States military.
According to a Marine Corps message, regarding Coates' Marine Corps recognition, a panel of senior language professionals selected Coates from a list of "highly competitive nominees from units throughout the Marine Corps."
The message also says that Coates' "sustained and rigorous personal language training program enabled him to achieve 2+/3 in Modern Standard Arabic; 3 in Levantine Arabic; 3 in Iraqi Arabic; and 1+ in Egyptian Arabic."
Since February of 2012, Coates has been in the Advanced Modern Standard Arabic Course at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and expects to graduate in 2013.
Coates said his family members, especially his parents, are very proud of him and his accomplishments.
His response to that, however, was simply: "I tell them I just do the best with whatever situation I'm placed in."