Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: BM1 Krystyna Duffy – the fourth active female surfman

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain's mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in San Francisco, drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge, Feb. 8, 2018. In March, Duffy became the fourth active female surfman in the Coast Guard, earning the highest rank in Coast Guard boat operation and a title which dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain’s mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in San Francisco, drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge, Feb. 8, 2018. In March, Duffy became the fourth active female surfman in the Coast Guard, earning the highest rank in Coast Guard boat operation and a title which dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy did it right. Not just because she approached her career as a boatswain’s mate with a single goal in mind, or because she persevered for more than a decade to make her dream come true. Duffy did it right because she knew the friends we make, make us, and she made the best of them.

Duffy became the fourth active female surfman in the Coast Guard on March 9 at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California. She received her pin from none other than Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, the station’s commanding officer and the boatswain who paved the path for the female surf community to follow; in 2002, Slade became the first woman to qualify as a surfman on the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat.

In the ideal scenario, a boatswain’s mate can complete the qualification in one to six years. Without an assignment to a surf station for most of her career, it would take Duffy just over 10. Between stations Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, and Woods Hole, Massachusetts, she rarely saw a day of heavy surf. But as she pursued other qualifications at her stations along the way, she kept her eyes — and her heart — on her goal.

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, commanding officer of Station Golden Gate, displays the Coast Guard surfman insignia prior to presenting it to Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain's mate at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California, March 9, 2018. Duffy is the fourth active female surfman in the service, a title that dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, commanding officer of Station Golden Gate, displays the Coast Guard surfman insignia prior to presenting it to Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California, March 9, 2018. Duffy is the fourth active female surfman in the service, a title that dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

“It’s really hard to get into the surf program as an E-6,” said Duffy. “There were a few times I didn’t know how it was going to work, but I reached out to Mrs. Slade for advice. Even though she’d never even met me, she told me not to give up.”

In nearly all of their conversations, Slade encouraged Duffy not only to press on toward her goal, but to build her network.

“There comes a time when we need to rely on our network to take us places we might not be able to go otherwise,” said Slade. “I found out early in my career that it’s essential to cultivate a community of people who care about us and are willing to stand for us.”

Eventually, Duffy’s connections would prove to be the key to unlocking her dream. As Duffy neared the end of her third tour at a non-surf station in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Slade contacted the detailer and pushed for Duffy to get orders to Station Golden Gate, where she would be able to complete the qualification.

Two years, one newborn, and countless surf-training rides later, Duffy finally joined the Coast Guard surf community.

“There are really no words to describe what it meant to me,” she said. “It was by far the best day of my career. I know that I couldn’t have done it alone.”

Whatever the journey, the courage to overcome obstacles along the way must come from within. But as Slade and Duffy – the Coast Guard’s most senior and most junior female surfmen – remind us, we will only ever be as strong as the company we keep.

Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, commanding officer of Station Golden Gate, displays the Coast Guard surfman insignia prior to presenting it to Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain's mate at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California, March 9, 2018. Duffy is the fourth active female surfman in the service, a title that dates back more than 200 years to the U.S. Life-Saving Service. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

Coast Guard women assigned to Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California, pose for a group photo after Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy (center) received her surfman insignia during a ceremony at the station, March 9, 2018. Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade (pictured 2nd from left), the station’s commanding officer, was the first woman to qualify as a surfman on the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, in 2002. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory Mendenhall.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the by emailing the Social Media team.

Comments

comments

Tags: , , , ,