Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Auxiliarist of the Year Roland Zwicky

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft presents the Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year award to Roland Zwicky. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft presents the Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year award to Roland Zwicky. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

 

Written by Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Auth

 

Roland Zwicky is the epitome of a Coast Guard Auxiliarist demonstrating adaptability and an eagerness to carry out their missions. As such, he was recently recognized as the 2016 Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year.

“As the auxiliary sector coordinator, Zwicky is an important member of the Coast Guard team,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Sector Honolulu. “He consistently creates opportunities for auxiliary volunteers to augment Coast Guard operations and maintains an optimism and helpful attitude that make him a pleasure to collaborate with. Zwicky is one of the most humble and genuine individuals I have had the pleasure to work with. We’re very fortunate to have him here.”

Zwicky takes that “team” mentality to heart through all his accomplishments. He was honored to receive recognition as Auxiliarist of the Year but says “it’s important to remember that this is due to the teamwork and support of both active duty and auxiliary members.”

Zwicky’s Auxiliary adventure began in 2000 after taking a navigation course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in San Francisco. He joined the Auxiliary, initially volunteering to assist with basic public education class instruction. With his technical background as a design engineer with a prominent computer and software company, he was quickly recruited to teach classes in advanced navigation, weather, and search and rescue. Zwicky’s technical background combined with his passion for sailing allows him to easily explain marine electronics and complex navigation techniques to the layperson.

Zwicky also used his unique skill sets to augment Sector San Francisco and assist with a marine casualty investigation in 2004. After retiring in 2006, he moved to Honolulu and immediately volunteered with the investigations department again. During his three years with Sector Honolulu, the investigations team won the Congressman James Sener Award for Excellence in Marine Investigations twice for their efforts following major marine casualties on sailing vessels. Zwicky has been a permanent fixture and volunteer member at Sector Honolulu ever since.

Since 2009 Zwicky has served as the Coast Guard Auxiliary sector coordinator, working as part of the sector commander’s staff and attending weekly meetings with active-duty personnel to assist with employing auxiliary volunteers in support of Sector Honolulu operations.

In this role, Zwicky was uniquely positioned to collaborate with Coast Guard personnel to determine the feasibility of a Coast Guard-owned, Auxiliary volunteer-operated vessel. The proposal outlined that the vessel would conduct training missions with Air Station Barbers Point and Station Honolulu crews as well as perform operational assignments as determined by the sector commander. The Coast Guard approved the proposal and the auxiliary-crewed vessel has been a resounding success.

Coast Guard Auxiliarist Roland Zwicky navigates around Honolulu Harbor. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard Auxiliarist Roland Zwicky navigates around Honolulu Harbor. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The 31-foot Utility Boat – Medium has been operating since 2011 and saves the sector’s limited boat and aircrew operational hours for search and rescue as well as approximately $1 million in operational costs annually. Zwicky is the primary coxswain of the UT-M, which serves as a training platform for other volunteers to qualify on as coxswain and boat crew. The UT-M conducts operations several days a week and dedicates over 500 hours a year to training missions, search and rescue call-outs and safety zone patrols to keep the public safe during high risk marine events.

Zwicky also employs his language skills as a Coast Guard Auxiliary interpreter. As a native of Switzerland, Zwicky speaks French and German fluently. He has deployed three times with Navy and Coast Guard teams to West Africa as an auxiliary interpreter. He maintains a close working partnership with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and was awarded an honorary membership for his support.

Zwicky is extremely passionate about the wide variety of Coast Guard missions and camaraderie of volunteers working alongside active-duty Coast Guard members. “The greatest satisfaction comes from doing something that positively and measurably impacts the Coast Guard,” he said. “For example, if the Auxiliary asset can provide Air Station Barbers Point water-based support, it frees up Station Honolulu to do other things.

Through the Auxiliary, Zwicky has been able to make friends throughout the Pacific Rim who are passionate about boating safety. He has also fostered a strong working partnership with the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, which recently presented him with an honorary membership, an award Zwicky appreciates immensely since only three people outside of Australia have ever received the award.

Created by an act of Congress in 1939, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is the civilian, non-military component of the Coast Guard team directly supporting the Coast Guard in a variety of missions. In the 14th district there are units throughout Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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