DHS names Sector Buffalo reservist among its ‘Heroes on the Front Lines’

Post written by Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Reinhart, reservist public affairs specialist assigned to the Ninth Coast Guard District.



YN2 Bonnie Wysocki, bottom left, and RAID Team XI at pre-deployment training. Photo courtesy of YN2 Bonnie Wysocki.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Bonnie Wysocki, a Coast Guard reservist who works at Sector Buffalo, was recognized Wednesday by Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano through the “Faces of Homeland Security: Heroes on the Front Lines” initiative.

The recognition program was launched as the department approaches the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11 in an effort to share some of the remarkable stories behind the men and women of DHS who go above and beyond to carry out the department’s mission of keeping our nation safe and secure.

Wysocki was one of 18 DHS members honored this week. These men and women work at every level to prevent terrorism, secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, safeguard cyberspace – as well as prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

During the deployment, RAID teams were trained to assist redeploying Army units with the shipping process. Here, YN2 Bonnie Wysocki is discussing the structural soundness of a container that is getting ready to ship. Photo courtesy of YN2 Bonnie Wysocki.

“We’re very proud to have Petty Officer Wysocki at Sector Buffalo,” said Chief Warrant Officer Paulette Gough, Wysocki’s supervisor. “It’s amazing to witness her accomplishments.”

Wysocki, a resident of Youngstown, N.Y., and the mother of a four-year-old son, is a landscape designer in her civilian life. As a reservist last year, she jumped into a 10-month deployment to Iraq as an inspector assigned to the Coast Guard’s Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment. The RAID’s mission was to assist Army transportation units with critical shipping processes in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

As the only female on a 15-person RAID team, the Coast Guard yeoman was mobilized as an inspector of hazardous materials and containers stationed throughout remote bases in central Iraq where internet and computer access were limited – if available at all. She adapted to her training and cultural challenges with flying colors.

“It was definitely an out-of-rate experience and an adjustment. There were so many challenges in a two-month period that I met – and I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. Her training included Combat Lifesaver School with the Army, cultural awareness classes, customs inspection training with the Navy, small arms training, and in-depth hazardous material training involving a multitude of federal regulations for international shipping of mobilized containers.

Wysocki said she would sometimes spend days or weeks travelling as part of a mobile inspection force aboard a variety of aircraft in support of redeploying Army units. Once on site, Wysocki would help inspect and seal containers to international shipping standards. She admitted that being a female in a war zone was at times very challenging.

“I gladly faced it because the Coast Guard prides itself in giving the same opportunities and treatment to males and females alike,” she added.

In addition to Wysocki’s recent DHS recognition, she received honors for her leadership and service at an April 26 USO “Women of the Year” luncheon in New York City. She also spoke at a March “Women at War” presentation in New York City conducted by the National Park Service in honor of Women’s History Month. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Olivia Hooker, 96, who as a SPAR in 1945 became the first African-American woman to join the Coast Guard.