Thankful for: Service to Nation

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we reached out to Coast Guard members, families and friends to see what they were thankful for this holiday season. All week long, Compass will be sharing these stories of thankfulness from in and around the Coast Guard community. Today’s post is from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Posted on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Today, I join our Nation in gathering together with family and loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner. While turkey and stuffing will be served, the sights and sounds will be different from that of many Americans as I spend the holiday with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Manama, Bahrain. There is no better place to express my thanks for all those who place Service before self than sitting alongside those defending our country overseas.

Seeing our men and women in action these first six months as Commandant has been inspirational and truly humbling. Every day, I witness Service to Nation in the Coast Guard’s 88,000-person force of active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to take a moment and recognize some of our extraordinary people standing the watch.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Raul Porras who deployed aboard U.S. Navy USS Vandegrift last summer as part of Law Enforcement Detachment 402. In a 48-hour period his team seized 2,000 kilograms of cocaine; cocaine that will never reach the streets of our Nation.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft serves a Thanksgiving meal for crews stationed with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft serves a Thanksgiving meal for crews stationed with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Guiding operations behind the scenes is Petty Officer 1st Class Rebecca Templeton with Joint Interagency Task Force – South. As an operations specialist, she is responsible for the detection and monitoring of a 42-million, square-mile area and has assisted in the tactical direction of 300 law enforcement interdictions at sea.

At Marine Safety Unit Texas City, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Trebilcock is a marine investigator who is widely praised for his professionalism, analytic skill, and expertise. Most recently, he investigated a marine collision between two motor vessels that spilled 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay.

As a command security officer for Sector New York, Mike Di Trani has a busy job coordinating security for one of the Nation’s busiest ports; and that is just his new day job. He retired after 28 years with the Coast Guard Reserve and is also a recently retired New York Police Department lieutenant.

A team of health services technicians – Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Scott, Petty Officer 2nd Class Lara Schiffer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Liz Coombe, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Plouffe – returned last month from JFK Airport where they deployed with a Department of Homeland Security team to perform temperature checks on passengers arriving to JFK from countries at high risk for Ebola.

And, at Grand Haven in August, I met Auxiliarst Dick Carver. He and Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Harris pulled a 5-year-old boy off of a sinking vessel a week prior; one of the 1,066 lives saved by our Auxiliarists in the last five years alone.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft speaks with crews on Thanksgiving Day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft speaks with crews on Thanksgiving Day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Our Coast Guard men and women cannot sustain mission excellence alone, however. Coast Guard families are an inseparable part of the Service’s mission and it is fitting that Thanksgiving shares November with Military Family Month. In Alaska, Robin Ferrier, is the assistant housing officer for Base Ketchikan, supporting 200 Coast Guard families in a town that has a one percent rental availability rate. She often brings her laptop to prospective houses for Coast Guard families transferring to Ketchikan, providing them a virtual walkthrough on Skype while families are thousands of miles away.

From cutters and aircraft to stations and bases, the Coast Guard provides tremendous value to our Nation every day around the world. However, these platforms are hollow without our people. During this season of sharing and gratitude, I give my thanks for the men and women of America’s Coast Guard and all those who support them.

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