Family First, Mission Second
Mar 05, 2019
For Shell Puget Sound Refinery operator Ed Castleberry, family always comes first – at work and at home.
When the 9/11 U.S. terrorist attacks occurred in 2001, Ed Castleberry remembers exactly where he was standing – he was 18 years old and working on a construction job on the roof of a high-rise building in downtown Seattle. All of a sudden, an employee ran up and frantically told everyone to get down immediately.
When Ed made it to the lobby, he watched the horror unfold on the TV screens along with everyone else. Within minutes, he told his boss that he planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps and serve his country.
Over the course of the next four years, he worked his way up the ranks to sergeant and served in Iraq. During his time there, he helped fight the War on Terror in the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Division Task Force Tarawa.
“Leading the Marines into combat was the most challenging yet humbling experience I have ever been a part of, and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to serve,” said Ed.
His life now looks very different. Ed – who grew up in Mt. Vernon, WA – serves as an operator at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery, the fire team captain and an officer on the medical rescue team.
Marine Corps shapes views on leadership
Ed said his experience in the U.S. Marine Corps shaped his views on leadership, family and what it means to protect those we love.
“That period of my life made me grow up very fast, and there’s nothing quite like watching someone shooting directly at you…war is not a pretty thing,” he said. “But I met the best male role model in my life in the Marine Corps – my platoon sergeant – and his leadership still impacts my decision making.”
As a result of fighting in the Iraq War, Ed – who now lives in Mt. Vernon, WA – values life in a way that he couldn’t have fathomed before he enlisted. Nothing is more important to him than his family and keeping them safe.
Following his time in the Marine Corps, Ed wanted to switch tracks completely and became a conductor for a regional railway company for a couple of years. While he was dropping off a rail car at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes, WA one day, he asked one of the employees about future job openings. Shortly afterward, he applied, interviewed and received a job offer as an operator.
Safety becomes second nature
“For the past 11 years, Shell has presented nothing but incredible opportunities for me,” said Ed. “I have learned more than I ever could have imagined when I first started, and I feel like I can affect real change here. I’ve really grown as a leader as well, and that’s very rewarding.”
He’s extremely passionate about preparedness, which is why he’s so involved with the refinery’s Emergency Response Team (ERT).
“I want to protect my family here, and we don’t get second chances in this business. We must get it right the first time,” said Ed.
Shell’s safety culture was an adjustment for him at first. “When I was overseas, the philosophy was mission first and then troop welfare. At Shell, it’s the opposite. People always come first, and nothing is more important than keeping everyone safe. The safety culture is now embedded in everything I do, and it’s second nature. You can’t ever be too busy to be negligent.”
Fatherhood has transformational impact
Outside of work, Ed spends as much time as possible with his 3-year-old son Corbin, who serves as his biggest source of inspiration.
“I’ve lived a very full life and traveled all over the world,” said Ed. “But nothing compares to being a dad. Fatherhood unlocked a part of me that I never knew existed. The ROI in parenthood is indescribable, and my son is the best gift I have ever received.”
“Corbin has changed me and made me a better person in every way. Sometimes I don’t know if I want to be more like him, or if he wants to be more like me. But I do know that I aspire to be as curious and outgoing as he is on a daily basis. He has also taught me a lot about patience.”
As Ed reflects on his own experiences so far, what does he want for his son?
“As with many things in life, what separates the most successful people from those on the other side is the amount of preparation and heart you’re willing to put in – often when no one else is watching. There’s no substitute for hard work. I hope he embraces that philosophy.”
You May Be Interested In
This past fall, three operators at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery saved the life of a contractor who was working at the refinery’s dock.
Meet Shell Puget Sound Refinery’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) and learn more about the importance of the ERT to the site – and the surrounding community.
For Shell Puget Sound Refinery Operator Dan Donnelly, snowboarding is a way of life. While he no longer ‘shreds’ every day as a professional snowboarder, his experiences in the backcountry gave him a deep appreciation for safety and what it truly means to have someone’s back.
Alyssa Willis says receiving a job offer from Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery was a dream come true. When she was 16 years old, she took her first steps toward entering the oil and gas industry – fast forward two years and thousands of hours of training later, and she’s learning the ropes as the only female operator on Shell’s Alky/Poly unit.