The Coast Guard Reserve: Interesting, Fun, Diverse

12710849_1051571758241067_7070239397519364468_oWritten by Ens. Zach Hall

On February 19th, 2016, the United States Coast Guard Reserve celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Established by the passage of the Coast Guard Reserve and Auxiliary Act of February 19th, 1941, the force of about 8,000 Coast Guard men and women act as an integral part of the Nation’s ability to protect its maritime interests both at home and abroad.

The 9th Coast Guard District, which spans all five Great Lakes, has a special relationship with the Reserves.

The Great Lakes were home to the original three Port Security Units.

PSUs are a unique Reserve national defense function. Today’s PSUs can deploy within 96 hours and establish on site operations within 24 hours anywhere in the world and they are by and large comprised of Reserve members.Wasco

“The Coast Guard has always meant something to me. I have the ability to go to work and enjoy what I do,” said Captain Fredrick “Fritz” Wasco, the Senior Reserve Officer of the 9th District.

Commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in Air Force through an ROTC initiative in 1980, he spent six years in the Air Force before wanting something more.

With the humanitarian mission and camaraderie at its core, Wasco knew the Coast Guard Reserve was the Service for him.

Relinquishing his commission as an officer, Wasco enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve and spent four years as a public affairs specialist.

In 1990, on the eve of the Coast Guard’s 200th anniversary, he was accepted into the Coast Guard’s Reserve Officer Indoctrination program and commissioned as an ensign.

He has since served for 28 years, advancing to the rank of O6 or Captain.

The amount of pleasure that Wasco still derives from his job is evident in the way he talks about the service.

“I was in the Air Force, have partnered with the Army, was overseas with the Navy and trained with the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard is the most interesting, fun and diverse one of them all…and that’s what kept me around all these years.”

The sense of satisfaction of being a Coast Guard Reservist is universal among members as these hardworking men and women proudly balance their busy civilian lives while serving their country in meaningful ways. Coast Guard Reserve members normally train two days a month and may perform up to 12 days of Active Duty a year, seamlessly integrating with Coast Guard units worldwide.

Having seen the world as reservist, from as far east as Thailand to northern Canada to Cuba, Wasco credits the effort he saw by Coast Guard members in Haiti during the Earthquake in 2010, where he supported humanitarian relief operations, as some of his finest hours.

PSU 309“Within 24 to 48 hours, teams of Coast Guard men and women were on scene providing necessary aid…both active duty and reserve members, everyone just came together.”

The ability to “come together” and serve in whatever capacity they are needed is defining of the Coast Guard Reserves, and is something over the last 75 years these dedicated men and women have relentlessly demonstrated.

Their motto is “Professionalism, Patriotism, Preparedness!” qualities shown in everyone who calls themselves a Reservist, both military and civilian roles.

But for some it doesn’t stop there, nearing the end of his career with an upcoming retirement at the end of June, Wasco’s only regret is that his time in the Reserves “flew by too fast.”

“That’s the problem when you’re having fun…the more fun, the faster time flies!”

Wasco looks forwards to spending his retirement in the Pittsburg area, closer to his parents. He is already a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the all-volunteer support arm of the service. Within that new role he is excited to get back to the “fun stuff” such as receiving training as a crew member aboard a 25-foot response boat at Marine Safety Unit Pittsburg on the Ohio River.

Continuing a tradition that began 75 years ago, members such as Wasco prove that the Coast Guard depends on their constant commitment to excellence and Devotion to Duty that comes with being a Coast Guard Reserve member.

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