Waking up at 0330 in the morning to begin a three-hour long road trip is not typically my idea of fun; however, I was wide awake and excited to visit the Coast Guard Station Oak Island for the first time. I was eager to learn firsthand about the daily routines and events that went on there and to have the opportunity to meet some members of the Coast Guard.
On April 19th, representatives of the North Carolina Society DAR, Davie Poplar Chapter, presented the Silver DAR Outstanding Cadet Medal to Jamie Marie Ramos. This presentation was the first to an AUP Cadet in North Carolina. Presenting the Award Certificate was Ms. Jane Forbes who was instrumental in bringing the AUP Cadet program to the attention of the DAR. Presenting the Silver Medal was Ms. Jean Lusted, the Regent of the Davie Poplar Chapter.
Twelve AUP students convened in Washington, DC from the weekend of 7 April 2017. Unit Washington, Unit Virginia Tech, Unit Hampton Roads, Unit San Diego, and Remote Collaborative Unit (RCU) were represented over the weekend. Highlights of the weekend included participating in drills and visiting Station Washington and Coast Guard Headquarters.
On 6 April, 2017, AUP Unit California Maritime held a Change of Watch ceremony. At the ceremony, 20 students were recognized as AUP Seniors. Their former Unit Leader, Andrew Manning, was also recognized by Flotilla 51 as Auxiliarist of the Year. In attendance were CAPT Drelling (D11 Prevention) and CDR Kazek (USCG Ret.). Brazo Zulu!
This winter break, I was privileged to spend 26 days aboard the USCGC Hollyhock, homeported in Port Huron, Michigan. She is a 225-foot buoy tender and icebreaker, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Molly K. Waters.
I didn’t know what to expect when I came on board, but I was ready to experience cutter life.
AUP students are eligible to apply for an internship with the USCG. Mr. Christopher Us is another AUP student who worked hard and contributed to the program. In the case of Mr. Us, from AUP Virginia Tech (Flotilla 7-7 out of Fairfield, Connecticut), AUP is a way to serve his country as well as using it as a springboard towards Officer Candidacy School.
As part of AUP, students involved are eligible to apply for an internship with the USCG. These internships typically follow the interests of involved students as a way of putting all the classroom knowledge to work. In the case of Mr. Jacob Marx from Flotilla 9-5 out of Davenport Ohio and a member of the Remote Collaborative Unit, it was a way for him to become more familiar with the workplace at a Coast Guard air station.
The California State University Maritime Academy and Massachusetts Maritime Academy are the largest and most successful units in the USCG Auxiliary University Programs, both offering AUP to all attending cadets. The program is similar to ROTC in the sense that the program teaches students about the Coast Guard, builds professionalism and leadership qualities, and presents opportunities to interact with both enlisted and officer Coast Guardsmen while gaining hands on experience.
AUP is a perfect way for students to get involved in the world of the US Coast Guard. They are presented with countless opportunities to interact with enlisted and officers. It is not every day that an AUP member is given the chance to hear from a USCG Officer who was once an AUP member themselves, learn about what they did as member, and get some advice. Both Ensign Garrett Hendrickson and Ensign Joshua Smith graduated from OCS and were avid members in AUP while they were undergraduates.
Congratulations to (L to R) ENS Chris Papas, ENS Chris Weber, ENS Garrett Hendrickson, and ENS Sam Sbalbi (not pictured) on their graduation from U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School on 24 November 2015.
By Bethany Buchanan Bogacki | Branch Assistant, Public Affairs
Editor's note: Leaders Serving is an occasional series where the AUP catches up with its alumni to see what they're working on and what advice they have for future and current AUP students.
John D. DeCastra, the Response Department Head of Marine Safety Unit Huntington West Virginia, was grateful for what he learned as an Auxiliary University Programs student the first week in his position when he had to handle a pollution incident and unsafe tugboat, all within days of each other.
“The AUP is where I learned to do all that,” DeCastra said. “So not only was I in the AUP learning how the Auxiliary and Coast Guard worked and recruiting others, I was also a full-time engineering student, working 20-plus hours a week, designing race cars, had all these different priorities going on. The AUP really taught me how to dig into manuals, prioritize and handle multiple things that might seem daunting and break them down into more manageable chunks.”
The AUP caught up with the alumnus recently to see what he’s up to. Below are his replies to submitted questions, edited for mechanics and style.
Which school did you go to? For how long? When did you graduate?
Auburn University. Four years. August 2012.
How old are you?
25 years old.
What was your major in college?
How did you join the AUP? When?
I joined the AUP through a friend who I saw wearing their uniform on campus. The brought me to a meeting, and the rest is history. I joined the fall semester of my junior year.
What positions did you hold during your AUP tenure?
I was an instructor and a vessel examiner.
Will you explain your current job title and where you work? What are your duties?
I was initially a non-rate, seaman, on the CGC GALLATIN, a 378-foot cutter stationed out of Charleston, S.C. While stationed there I painted, cleaned, scrubbed dishes, stood helm and lookout watches, sailed through Hurricane Sandy searching for survivors of the HMS Bounty, launched helicopters off the cutter in the middle of the night, was part of a custody crew of a fishing vessel caught smuggling drugs off the coast of Columbia, in total I was a part of seizing a little over 10 tons of cocaine. I then got picked up for OCS and was stationed on CGC DILIGENCE out of Wilmington, N.C. The first six months I was the Command, Control, and Communications Officer. I supervised the Combat Information Center and selected boarding targets on a northeaster fisheries patrol, and mid Atlantic fisheries patrol. Within those six months we boarded over 150 commercial fishing vessels preventing illegal harvest in closed areas and prevented illegal fishing practices that not only created unfair competition, but depleted limited natural resources through over fishing. The last year I was the first lieutenant where I was in charge of Deck Department, which consisted of overseeing preventative hull maintenance schedules to keep a 50 year old ship operational through corrosion control (ensuring paint was on the hull and the ship stayed white), and ensuring the cutters small boats were operational and crews were trained. Lastly I was the aviation officer and worked closely with the air stations to ensure the cutter personnel were trained and proficient in launching and recovering helicopters. I am currently the Response Department Head of Marine Safety Unit Huntington West Virginia where I am responsible for Law Enforcement, Ports Waterways and Coastal Security, Incident Management, Recreational Boating Safety, and Search and Rescue on a little over 1,000 miles of river in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
What did AUP teach you about leadership?
When I was a part of the AUP, it was in its infancy. By this I mean that the formal training programs, courses, internships, ect. were not yet established. I spent the bulk of my time in the AUP trying to set those things up by building relations with the Gold Side by traveling to a small boat station that was four hours away to stand watches and work with the station personnel, gaining AUX quals, recruiting people in the college and, most importantly, building relations with the Auxiliary (something I am still doing for the AUP as the auxiliary liaison for my unit). One specific example of this was speaking at the District 8 Auxiliary conference with the D8 commander present about the advantage the AUP has in diversifying the Auxiliary and the other advantages it has. The Auxiliary is currently trying very hard to get more age diversity. Every flotilla I come in contact with is very interested in the AUP and how to get younger people involved. This being said, the AUP taught me about upper-level management, thinking about the big picture, and working with partners through first-hand experience.
How did AUP prepare you for your future?
It gave me first-hand experience in working in upper-level management, working with partners, and how the Coast Guard works. It also gave me exposure to ICS and other incident-management tools.
What would you say to all the current and future AUP students out there?
Get involved! Get your quals, teach classes, conduct CMEs, do patrols, volunteer at your local station as a watchstander. You will get more out of the program, experience more of the local communities, more out of the coast guard, and more self satisfaction. Not only get involved with the AUP, but also the other local flotillas in the area, division, and district! You will inspire your other flotillas, your fellow AUX members. The more involved you get the more you will benefit from the program, and the more the CG and American public will benefit from the AUX.
Know someone who should be profiled as a part of this series? Fill out this form here, send an email to Bethany Buchanan Bogacki at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your recommendation on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #AUPthought.
Last month I shared with you the news about our new website, and about the new course we’re charting for academics in the Coast Guard Auxiliary University Programs. Today we’re publishing start-of-year updates to the AUP Program of Study that bring us closer to our goal of an academic program that is more flexible for students at different schools and in different timezones, putting students at the helm of their own educational experience in AUP.
By Bethany Buchanan Bogacki | Branch Assistant, Public Affairs
When BM2 Paul Jacob returned from leave earlier this month, he saw an email from Master Chief Lanny Nies that was addressed only to him. Not to the sector of Mobile. Just for the 27-year-old, a boatswain's mate and Auxiliary University Programs unit leader at Southern Mississippi.
“ ‘Whenever you get a chance, can you give me a call?’ That’s all it said in the email,” Jacob said. “My first reaction was, uh-oh. How in the world did I get Master Chief’s attention?”
While Jacob had no time to sit and ponder what could have been behind the message -- he had to leave his desk and take care of his duties around Coast Guard Station Gulfport -- but he was quick to ask a superior if he knew about the email and, if he did, if it were a sign of bad news. The suspense was killing him, Jacob said.
“I know about it,” Jacob said he was told. “And it’s not bad news.”
The moment he had an opportunity, Jacob said he logged back on and, to his surprise, saw another email from Master Chief. The subject line read, ‘Selected.’
That’s how Jacob, who has been in the Coast Guard for just about six years and stationed in Mississippi for a year, learned he was chosen as the Enlisted Person of the Quarter.
“I was incredibly honored to be nominated by my peers at the station as the Sailor of the Quarter. Then it went to sector in Mobile, and you cross your fingers and hope for the best,” he said. “I come back from leave, and find an email from the top at the sector. … I was really caught off guard. I never really expected the things that I wanted to do would lead me to this kind of award. It’s a really huge.”
He said he was handed another surprise on Coast Guard Day, a time, he said, when the station holds events with Gulfport Armed Forces Retirement Home -- which houses among its residents three former Coasties.
Senior Chief Rebecca Wyness was the guest speaker, Jacob said, and started talking about a typical day in the Coast Guard.
“Then she starts talking about our unit and the AUP, and you perk up,” he said. “And she singles me out, and mentioned I got selected (for the award), and the crowd gave a little ovation. It was nice, it was shocking ... To be singled out like that, at an event like that, it was really special. It was the last thing I ever expected. It’s a huge huge honor. …
My wife, son and parents were there. I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do without the support of my family and the support of my unit. … It’s more than I could ask for, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without them. ...
“We’ve got excellent people from top to bottom at our station. They give us the opportunity and skills to achieve great things, and they always push us to get better.”
Jacob said he had been on the fence about applying to Officer Candidate School before deciding to enlist, but, ultimately, he knew he wanted to be in a position to lead and help others. He said AUP helped illuminate a path for him.
“I wanted to be at the position where I could make the biggest impact and most positive influence; the AUP gave me that answer,” said Jacob, who’s studying management online at Bellevue University. “This is just one part of life as an enlisted member that gives me the opportunity to teach and give back to my community. The reason why I joined the Coast Guard was to leave a positive mark on the world. This program gives me a chance to meet that expectation.”
For current and future AUP students, Jacob had this advice: “Take advantage of everything that the Coast Guard and United States Coast Guard can provide to you. There are endless opportunities, and all you have to do is ask about them. I can’t even fathom all the things there are to do in the Auxiliary, there’s so much. It’s grown so much. ...
“Get out there and do it. Find what you want to do and do it. Try everything.”
Innovation is something that happens every day, the college sophomore said, and anyone can be an innovator.