Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: MK1 Ryan Swartz

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Gulf Strike Team and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, takes a break after surveying displaced vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017. Members of the National Strike Force are playing an integral role in the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Maria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

With holidays fast approaching, many Coast Guard service members will be carving turkeys, shopping for holiday gifts, visiting family and…

…deploying for disaster response?

Hundreds of Coast Guard men and women have deployed, and will continue to deploy overseas to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in response to the devastating aftermath caused by Hurricane Maria, which touched ground on Sept. 20, 2017.

U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force personnel assess damaged and derelict vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017, many of which washed ashore after Hurricane Maria. The strike force personnel have responded to many historic incidents, providing the American public with rapidly deployable technical experts, specialized equipment and incidents management capabilities. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

U.S. Coast Guard National Strike Force personnel assess damaged and derelict vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017, many of which washed ashore after Hurricane Maria. The strike force personnel have responded to many historic incidents, providing the American public with rapidly deployable technical experts, specialized equipment and incidents management capabilities. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

Having served 18 years in the Coast Guard, Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a Gulf Strike Team member, is no stranger to deploying and has spent numerous days away from his family during holiday seasons and important life milestones.

“I will be missing my 7-year-old son’s birthday and my 17-year-old’s senior high school football games this time,” said Swartz. “Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I deploy, but I gain perspective when I do the job and support important missions during times of hardship and disaster.”

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Gulf Strike Team and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, surveys a displaced vessel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017. Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record and caused catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Gulf Strike Team and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, surveys a displaced vessel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017. Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record and caused catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

No natural disasters happen at the perfect time. Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record and caused catastrophic damage and a major humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

A Petal, Mississippi local, Swartz has spent years away from loved ones, including two year-long deployments to Kuwait, a few months in Cuba and is currently working through an 84-day deployment in San Juan.

Swartz and his team are working to assist the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its citizens by working to get their vessels out of the water in order to mitigate pollution to the environment.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Gulf Strike Team and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, takes a break after surveying displaced vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017. Members of the National Strike Force are playing an integral role in the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Maria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Swartz, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Gulf Strike Team and a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, takes a break after surveying displaced vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017. Members of the National Strike Force are playing an integral role in the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Maria. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

Swartz is part of the National Strike Force, one of the Coast Guard’s highly capable and experienced maritime crisis management teams. The teams have stood by to deploy to any hazard, at any time, in any place since 1973. The strike force personnel have responded to many historic incidents, providing the American public with rapidly deployable technical experts, specialized equipment and incidents management capabilities.

From being in the Boy Scouts as a kid, frequent deployments with the Coast Guard, and working as a full-time Petal Fire Department engineer since 2006, Swartz believes that divine intervention has continuously placed him in positions to serve and protect others.

Ultimately, Swartz credits the resilience and support of his family for his success and accomplishments throughout his life.

Members of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard work together while assessing damaged and derelict vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017, many of which washed ashore after Hurricane Maria.

Members of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard work together while assessing damaged and derelict vessels in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2017, many of which washed ashore after Hurricane Maria. The Maria ESF-10 PR Unified Command, consisting of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, U.S. Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Control Board, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. and Fish and Wildlife Service, is responding to vessels found to be damaged, displaced, submerged or sunken. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

“When called into service, my family buckles down and presses forward,” said Swartz. “I’m here to help others and my family supports and loves me through it all.”

After apologizing to his oldest son for not attending a high school event, Swartz said his son replied – It’s okay because you are doing something much more important.

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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