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AUP Branch Chief Jacob Thayer 'honored' to be 2014 Auxiliarist of the Year

posted Jul 17, 2015, 10:18 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 27, 2015, 9:34 AM ]

Auxiliary University Programs’ national Branch Chief Jacob E. Thayer said he was "quite surprised and honored" to learn that he was recently named the 2014 Auxiliarist of the Year.

"There are so many people around the Auxiliary doing so many great things, it's moving to realize what you do is making such a reverberating impact," Thayer said in an email. "To work in an organization that has such a great mission, saving lives, and the leaders' willingness to recognize such a young member shows the emphasis on people, and it's our people that make us strong, as a nation and as the Coast Guard."

Thayer, who also serves as flotilla commander of Flotilla 75 in Austin, Texas, was commended for his “exemplary performance and spirit of service,” said RDML Paul F. Thomas, Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, in a news release announcing his award on July 17.

From the flotilla level to the national, Thayer has been an inspired leader involved in many aspects of the Auxiliary.


According to the release, as flotilla commander "he established clear strategic and tactical plans that guided the unit to improved recruiting, retention, and member services. Under his enthusiastic leadership, the flotillas membership and qualifications increased 25 percent."

His experience working at the national level doesn't just include the great work he does for the AUP. 

 "From June to August 2014, Mr. Thayer worked full-time at Coast Guard Headquarters in its Strategic Management Directorate as part of Project Evergreen," the release states. "He participated in roundtable discussions with senior officers, and assisted with coordination of many interviews and meetings. He represented the Auxiliary in discussions with several research groups and foreign entities, including the First Sea Lord of the United Kingdom. He concurrently led a project to provide the 7th District with research regarding future Cuban socio-political scenarios, and how they could potentially affect Coast Guard missions."

"I've been fortunate because I've worked with great teams at all levels," Thayer said. "I've had fantastic mentors, such as (Director of Strategic Planning) Andrew Welch, who helped me understand how to think and act like a leader then motivate others to do the same. I've been able to work on long- and short term-projects, which provides the nearly instantaneous feedback and fulfillment, but also the greater satisfaction of seeing the results of conversations from years ago come to fruition."

So, what's next for Thayer? 

"This is an exciting close to my chapter working with AUP and Flotilla Austin," Thayer said. "In early August, I'll be moving to Virginia to attend the Washington & Lee University School of Law. Once there, I'll be looking to transfer to a local flotilla.

"I was also recently transferred to the new Program Management Division of the Strategic Planning Directorate. Once I get to my third year of law school, I intend to apply to the Direct Commission Lawyer program and serve in the Coast Guard full-time. I'm looking forward to many years ahead of working with the greatest federal agency and keep Americans safe on the waters."


And then there's the ceremony. Thayer will be “formally recognized” as the nation’s top Auxiliarist at the Auxiliary National Convention in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 29.

Leaders Serving: Citadel alum William Singletary says Coast Guard career started with roles in AUP

posted Feb 25, 2015, 10:37 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 25, 2015, 2:07 PM by Andrew Welch ]

Leaders Serving is a monthly glance into the lives of Auxiliary University Programs alumni. February’s spotlight was cast on The Citadel and AUP 2013 graduate William Singletary, who said his career in the Coast Guard got its start when he picked up an AUP flier in an academic building hallway.

Will you explain your current job title and give an explanation of your duties? 

I work for Carotrans, a non-vessel operating common carrier. We have so many slots per vessel, and we find customers to fill those spots. I manage all the rates for the company, so I’m technically part of the corporate team for that.

What do you do with the Coast Guard now?

I’m in the Coast Guard Reserves. I’m currently at Sector Charleston in the incident management position in response. … I’m up for rotation in September – and I have no idea where I’m going to end up there. I’m just getting my qualifications, but basically if there’s an oil spill, my main part of the job is incident management and learning how to control an incident. Hopefully I’m going to get a port security, but I’ll go wherever they tell me to go and do a good job wherever I go. 

I was commissioned in August, and was enlisted three years prior to that.

What were your major and minor in college?

My major was in business administration. No minor.

How old are you?

I’m 24.

What did AUP teach you about leadership?

Being at The Citadal, they call it a leadership laboratory, so all four years you’re supposed to be learning it all four years. … A lot of leadership is learning how to deal with people. You can’t have the same reaction with person A and person B. You see good and bad leaders, and learn to emulate the good. …

You get a lot of dedicated people, especially if they stay all four years. If we just one person that goes into the Coast Guard a year, who enlists or as an officer, that’s huge, and compared to how big the Coast Guard is, that’s a big number. You definitely learn how to manage your people, keep them interested in what they’re doing. You want to take them out on the boat and experience what the real Coast Guard is – it’s not just academic study. You have to keep the cadets interested and kind of get them hooked. In dealing with the Auxiliary, it’s a volunteer organization, so you have to be respectful in how you treat people, their time and do things.

Which flotilla are you in?

I recently transferred to 12-6 Charleston (South Carolina). 

How did AUP prepare you for your future?

Especially before I went into boot camp, I knew a lot of the things, and I did a lot more than the average AUP student. But I knew so much and I was more knowledgeable than the average person who went into boot camp. It just helped tremendously. I wasn’t really worried about that aspect of it at all. It helps you, as well gives you a really good inside look of the Coast Guard as well. As an aside, going to The Citadel, I wanted to be there because I wanted the structure and I liked the class size, but the reason I’m in the Coast Guard now is because of the AUP. … I knew I wanted to serve, I knew I wanted to do something in that capacity. And it was a good fit. That’s why I’m in the Coast Guard today.

What would you say to all the current and future AUP students out there?

I would say keep it up. It really gives you a leg up on the competition and, just like with anything, it is what you make of it. … If you’re in it, be in it. Do what you have to do to get qualified. If you want to be in the Coast Guard, this is a way to do it. Just keep up the hard work. It’s going to pay off. This program is still young and I think it can turn into something even greater than it is today.

Replies were edited for clarity and length. The Leaders Serving profile runs toward the end of the month. If wish to recommend an alumnus or alumnae to be featured, please email his or her contact information to AUP Branch Assistant Bethany Buchanan at

AUP student creates hashtag to spread the word about vessel safety checks

posted Dec 22, 2014, 8:56 AM by Unknown user

By Bethany 

It may be the end of 2014, but Auxiliary University Programs remote-unit student Berhilo Galvan is already working to ensure a safe boating season in 2015.

Berhilo, who goes by B.H., created the #GetMyVSC hashtag this fall for use across social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, to spread the word about safety boating checks and practices ahead of Safe Boating Week in March. 

“National Safe Boating Week isn’t until March, but we’re starting in January because our boat show is in January, and we’re trying to make people aware of getting a safety check at the beginning of the year, that way people have it in mind,” said B.H., who is studying computer information systems at Temple Junior College in Temple, Texas. “… We’re trying to ramp up all our messaging leading up to Safe Boating Week.”

Getting the vessel safety check at the beginning of the year makes things a little easier on boaters, as “the decal is good for the rest of the year,” according to B.H. 

He said a safety check ensures the boater is following federal, state and local safety regulations, such as carrying a fire extinguisher and lifesavers on board. “It’s all part of the vessel safety check, and it’s a free service we provide to the boating public,” B.H. said.

Creating and sharing the hashtag “has been an internal experiment, but I’m going to try to bring it to a national audience,” said B.H., who is a member of Flotilla Austin in the 8th District Coastal Region, Division 7.  “Slowly the word is starting to get out. I don’t know how long it will take before it will take off, but I’m telling everyone about it. It’s a matter of time before everyone knows about it.

“I have been using a lot of the energies and ideals I’ve gained from the AUP in communicating with the public in a modern way,” B.H. said in the fall. “We try to gain more interest … and nothing easier than saying follow us on Facebook and Twitter.”

 The boat show is Jan. 8-11 at the Austin Convention Center, located at 500 East Cesar Chavez Street in Austin, Texas, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tweet @CGAUXATX for more information.


AUP national operations coordinator earns honorable mention for Auxiliarist of the Year

posted Aug 4, 2014, 10:07 AM by Unknown user

AUP national operations coordinator Jerry "Jake" Shaw Jr., BC-SUO and of District 8CR Flotilla 8-12, has been awarded honorable mention for 2013 Auxiliarist of the Year.

"We are truly changing the face of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and in the process the face of the USCG," Shaw said in an email. "I feel blessed to play a role in this incredible group of leaders and student (cadet) leaders that will be shaping our tomorrow."

Shaw, who also serves as Unit Officer for Auburn University, Public Affairs Officer for District 8 Coastal Region, and as a Coast Guard Academy Admissions Partner, shares this distinction with Ms. Jessica Zenquis-Davidson of District 5NR Flotilla 2-76. 

The 2013 Auxiliarist of the Year is Mr. Wallace Smith, Jr. of District 11 NR Flotilla 6-10.

AUP project manager reports from Auxiliary anniversary celebration

posted Jun 23, 2014, 10:21 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 25, 2014, 5:58 AM by Jacob Thayer ]

Photos and story by Jacob Thayer

Admiral Paul Zukunft and AUP Project Manager Jacob Thayer stop for a picture at the Auxiliary's 75th Anniversary Celebration at USCG headquarters.
On June 23, several members of the AUP staff and I were able to enjoy the camaraderie of other Auxiliarists in the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.

We were fortunate to be joined by Admiral Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the United States Coast Guard, as well as Captain F. Thomas Boross, the chief director the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. The commandant and National Commodore Thomas C. Mallison both discussed the importance of the Auxiliary. Admiral Zukunft noted how much the organization has accomplished just in the last five years, including saving over 1,000 lives. Admiral Zukunft quipped that he loves being at Auxiliary events, as he is no longer the oldest person in the room. However, there were many auxiliarists of all ages, though mostly from District 5 Southern Region because of its proximity to the building.

During the ceremony, Admiral Zukunft presented a Unit Citation to Commodore Mallison, who accepted it on behalf of the entire Auxiliary. A special streamer celebrating 75 years was also presented to the Auxiliary, and flotillas that were founded in 1939 (of which, there are four) are also permitted to fly the streamer on their flags. 

After the ceremony, we were able to mingle with the senior leadership of the Auxiliary, both active duty personnel as well as Commodore Mallison. A beautiful cake with the logo of the anniversary was presented. The Admiral made sure everyone in the Coast Guard recognized this monumental success because of the important mission the Auxiliary has, and the service the Auxiliary has provided. 

Here’s to another 75+!

From Unit William and Mary: SAR exercise highlights importance of effective signaling

posted May 29, 2014, 8:46 PM by Unknown user

Garrett Hendrickson, a student at AUP Unit William and Mary, reflects on a recent AUXAIR mission at the mouth of the Rappahannock River in Virginia.

A great deal can be learned about recreational boating safety from the air, according to Coast Guard Auxiliary aviator Garrett Hendrickson, a member of Auxiliary University Programs Unit William and Mary. 

On a recent AUXAIR mission in a Cessna 182, Hendrickson cooperated with a Coast Guard Auxiliary surface asset in a scenario-based search and rescue drill at the mouth of the Rappahannock River in Virginia. The scenario -- two collided vessels, one disabled and the other taking on water -- required the air asset to look for various signals that could be used by a vessel in distress. 

After locating the disabled vessel, the Hendrickson and the AUXAIR crew began a search for the other vessel. The aircraft crew identified a debris field upriver, which was presumed to have come from the submerged vessel, as well as a simulated person in the water. The crew proceeded to provide vectors to the surface asset for recovery of the PIW, and, upon recovery, the Auxiliary aircraft crew was informed of another simulated PIW who attempted to swim to shore post-collision. 

In order to best estimate how the second PIW was affected by weather factors, including current, the crew of the air asset contacted the surface asset to receive a sea state report. Upon adjusting its search pattern, the Hendrickson and the air crew quickly identified the second PIW and subsequently provided vectors to the surface asset for recovery.  

Many important lessons came from this operation. The surface asset utilized numerous types of signaling devices, including mirrors, hand-held flares, aerial flares, and smoke signals. Mirror flashes, especially on a sunny day, can be easily mistaken for reflections off the water surface.  

In an emergency, conduct rhythmical flashes to aerial assets to ensure most effective communication, in addition to following the manufacturer's operating instructions. Mariners are strongly encouraged to consider a variety of different types of visual distress signals, especially orange smoke flares for daytime use. Orange smoke is easily noticed from far away and lingers for quite some time near the vessel. With any pyrotechnic devices, these visual distress signals can pose a potential for injury and property damage if not properly handled correctly. Follow all instructions for safe use of the device. 

Although Hendrickson's training evolution was simulated, being familiar with the safe and proper usage of visual distress signals is crucial for being prepared for a maritime emergency. Learn more about distress signals at

AUP Unit Detroit student aids in search for missing boaters

posted May 19, 2014, 10:32 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 19, 2014, 10:36 AM ]

AUP student Sean Cahill works at his post at Air Station Detroit. Cahill is a senior criminal justice major at Madonna University in Michigan.

By Bethany Buchanan

It was halfway through the 19-hour search for four missing boaters in April when Watchstander Sean Cahill came into Air Station Detroit.

“It was a full-blown incident,” said Cahill, who is an AUP student with Unit Detroit at Madonna University. “And I walked right into it. I was given a briefing of what was going on, but the rest of the day was going to be a question mark.”

Cahill said he was told the Coast Guard and local law enforcement were conducting an ongoing search for a fishing missing vessel and its four passengers, who were reported missing around 3 a.m. when they didn’t return home. Helicopters were sweeping the scene, he said, and his station brought in a four-man crew and helicopter from Air Station Traverse City in northern Michigan to aid in the extensive search. 

The senior criminal justice major said his job was to be the communications intermediary among the different organizations working in tandem to find the boaters. He was constantly calling crews, helping to refuel the planes, doing what was necessary to make sure the planes could still fly – anything to keep the search in progress. His job makes him the first responder from the command center, he said.

“This is what we trained for,” Cahill said. “This is what I want to do in the Coast Guard, and this is the training that we all go through in the hopes of not wanting to use it in a serious case, but it was a really humbling experience to be a part of a team.”

This was so much of a team effort, Cahill said, that a falcon six wing jet joined in the search. A commander took the jet to Michigan from Corpus Christi, Tx., for his retirement ceremony, and while the jet wasn’t fully prepared for a search mission, Cahill said they were able to get approval and aid in the endeavor.

“It was a fitting way to end his career,” he said. “It was such a unique situation.”

Cahill said his experiences at the station affirm his goal of transitioning into the Coast Guard, and he’s glad to be involved in the AUP because it allowed him the opportunity to learn important, real-world skills first-hand.

“I get a really good exposure of what life is like, a broad perspective of what life is like (in the Coast Guard). Just the fact that I’m around all of it is something I just find humbling,” Cahill said.

While, unfortunately, the crews were only to recover the vessel and two passengers, Cahill said: “If there was a better result it would have been more fulfilling. But it was a big day for us and I take a lot of pride in that.”

Unit William and Mary summer activities: AUP students tackle challenges around the world

posted Dec 18, 2013, 10:33 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 18, 2013, 10:41 AM ]

Mr. Silliman, AUP Unit W&M '15, attends a meeting of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Washington, D.C. Mr. Silliman is a summer intern at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Written by Jonathan Roth

A number of Auxiliary University Programs Unit William and Mary students participated in formal internships and Coast Guard operational activities throughout the country this past summer. From the nearby waters of Hampton Roads to Chicago, Brazil, and even a planet 57 million miles away from Earth, their activities were as diverse as the locations in which they took place.

Robert “Seb” Meekins, Communication Services Officer for Flotilla 67 in Williamsburg, Va., went underway as a trainee on July 4th for safety zone support of a fireworks display in Portsmouth, Va. Just as the spectacle began, a report came in of a boat operating without navigation lights in heavily-trafficked area. Seb and the Flotilla 51 crew, based out of Virginia Beach, Va.,  found the vessel after a quick search, received word that the boat was disabled, and proceed to take it in side tow to another boat. Throughout the rest of the summer, Seb completed Vessel Safety Checks to receive his Vessel Examiner qualification and taught a boating safety course in Virginia Beach.

To the north, Ben Silliman completed an internship at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Owing to his concentration in chemistry, Ben was paired with the Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy to research and guide policy on responding to spilled oil sands products. The majority of these products entering the United States are Canadian bitumen from Alberta, Canada, which presents unprecedented challenges in case of an oil spill. Ben worked alongside Coast Guard officers and gave formal presentations to pertinent stakeholders on oil sands chemical characteristics and the environmental threats they hold. With his information, Coast Guardsmen responding to these types of spills will be more efficient and lessen the extent of environmental damage.  He even briefly met Adm. Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard. This coming May, Silliman will present his findings to the 2014 International Oil Spill Conference in Savannah, Ga. Silliman received the Auxiliary Commandant’s Letter of Commendation for his work.

To the west, Jonathan Roth was a Coast Guard intern with Ninth District Public Affairs in Chicago. Working with a Chief Petty Officer, Roth assisted in the production, editing and distribution of a public safety announcement featuring an NFL athlete. The video was posted to the homepage during the summer. Additionally, Jonathan wrote a feature article for the Coast Guard Great Lakes blog about the modern-day Coast Guard’s first major rescue operation, the response to the capsizing of the SS Eastland in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915. Jonathan also participated in the “Week in the life of the Coast Guard” public affairs campaign and had his photos featured on the Coast Guard Compass blog, with additional photos of the Tall Ships Challenge Chicago event receiving coverage during a Coast Guard interview on The Weather Channel. Jonathan completed the Public Affairs Specialist I qualification and received the Coast Guard Auxiliary Achievement Medal for his work.

Daniel Sieh worked towards receiving his Coast Guard interpreter qualification in Portuguese this summer. Soon after receiving this qualification, he received a call in the middle of the night from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, which had been contacted by the Brazilian Navy. The Brazilian Navy was monitoring a situation of lost communications aboard a commercial vessel and requested the Coast Guard’s assistance. Daniel served as a vital link between the two organizations and successfully executed the mission to a safe resolution.

On the outskirts of D.C., Ariel Deutsch worked as a NASA intern at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.  She worked in the MESSENGER Science Operations Center, which is responsible for the spacecraft currently orbiting Mercury. MESSENGER is retrieving the first data sets of full global coverage for the planet. Deutsch, a geology major at the College, examined evidence for water ice on Mercury using data from the Mercury Dual Imaging System - the camera gimbaled on the spacecraft.  Craters on Mercury's North Pole were investigated because of the presence of intriguing radar bright material that had the same spectral signature returned by water ice. Deutsch worked on finding relationships between regions with radar bright and reflectivity dark material and areas of permanent shadow.  She will continue to expand on this work while mapping Mercury's North Pole during this academic year for her senior Honors Thesis.

Internship experience: AUP Unit William & Mary's Jonathan Roth tells Chicago's Coast Guard story

posted Dec 5, 2013, 12:13 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 5, 2013, 6:07 AM by Unknown user ]

Jonathan Roth, a student at AUP Unit William and Mary, reflects on his summer internship at Coast Guard Ninth District Public Affairs in Chicago, Ill.

"You’re working for the Coast Guard…in Willowbrook?” Almost everybody I told could not believe it. Me, working as a Coast Guard intern this summer, in a landlocked suburb of Chicago a half-hour from the glistening waters of Lake Michigan? Yep, that’s right. For eight weeks this past summer, I was an intern with Coast Guard Ninth District Public Affairs, whose area of responsibility includes the Great Lakes region. I worked alongside a Chief Public Affairs Specialist (PAC) at Marine Safety Unit Chicago in Willowbrook, Ill., that tiny suburb twenty miles due west of the lakefront.

Pictured left:
Roth talks with past District 9WR Commodore Randy Podolsky and a news cameraman on the yacht "Blackhawk" at Monroe Harbor in Chicago, July 19, 2013. Earlier, Commodore Podolsky emphasized the Auxiliary's boating safety mission on live television. Roth assisted with the media event.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf.

I came into the internship with many objectives; I wanted to tell Chicago’s Coast Guard
story, to learn about working in the Coast Guard, and to improve my professional skills in journalism and marketing – just to name a few. I walked away with so much more, and am honored to reflect on such a great experience in serving my country and recognizing Coast Guardsmen throughout the Chicagoland area.

My first day at the office reaffirmed the strong, shared culture that the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary share. Arriving in my Operational Dress Uniform, the attire at MSU Chicago, I immediately fell in step with life as a Coast Guard journalist and was warmly welcomed by my new shipmates. So much so, in fact, that I was tasked with adapting a video public service announcement script to a radio-friendly format, with 30 and 60 second versions, within one hour of my arrival on that warm June morning.

Pictured right: A reporter interviews Petty Officer 1st Class James Strempel about Operation Dry Water at Navy Pier, June 27, 2013. Operation Dry Water is a national boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign that lasted June 28-30, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by auxiliarist Jonathan Roth.

A few weeks later, I assisted in filming that same PSA at Coast Guard Station Chicago-
small with a local NFL player and crewmembers from a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium
from Station Calumet Harbor. Shortly after, I put together the PSA in post-production and was the one responsible for distributing it to military and civilian media sources, including the homepage.

In the weeks that followed, my mentors at MSU Chicago allowed me more opportunities to develop my technical skills, including updating and consolidating the region’s media contact list, assisting in a media advisory event with television film crews and helping prepare news and photo releases for important events pertaining to recreational users of Lake Michigan and the greater Chicago marine community. In each of these activities, my colleagues regarded me as a fully capable member of the team and were always available to answer my endless questions about their careers in the Coast Guard.

Pictured left:
Petty Officer 3rd Class Brennen Coles (left) and Seaman Nicholas Konopka place a bouquet of flowers in the Chicago River in remembrance of the 98th anniversary of the SS Eastland disaster, July 24, 2013. The SS Eastland capsized on the Chicago River in 1915 with more than 2,500 passengers on board. 844 people perished in one of the United States' worst maritime disasters. U.S. Coast Guard photo by auxiliarist Jonathan Roth.

There was never a dull moment while I worked as a Coast Guad journalist over the summer. In July, I covered the 98th anniversary of the S.S. Eastland disaster in the Chicago River. I had never heard of this tragic event in all of my years growing up in the Chicago area. When I further investigated the capsizing of the chartered steamer that killed 844 passengers, I reviewed historical documents and began to make connections between the founding of the Coast Guard and this event, both of which occurred in 1915.
Talking with the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Historian’s Office, I confirmed that the response of eight surfmen from Station Old Chicago – the same station where I filmed the PSA weeks earlier – was the modern-day Coast Guard’s first major rescue operation. Just six months prior to the disaster, President Woodrow Wilson merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service to create the modern-day Coast Guard. Never had I thought I would be able to contribute to the Coast Guard history books during my internship.

Pictured right: Petty Officer 2nd Class Dana Cunningham, from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., takes a fuel sample from an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter at Air Facility Waukegan, Ill., July 31, 2013. Fuel samples are taken every morning to ensure that the fuel is free of water and debris. U.S. Coast Guard photo by auxiliarist Jonathan Roth.

One of my main goals for the summer was to tell Chicago’s Coast Guard story, the story of the men and women who protect citizens and infrastructure in a metropolitan area of more than 9.4 million people. When my mentor told me about the national “Week in the life of the Coast Guard” campaign, he suggested this opportunity would be my chance to craft my own feature stories. I visited Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, and an MSU Chicago public engagement event over three consecutive days.Through this “fieldwork,” I experienced many different mission areas of the Coast Guard and shared the hard work of these men and women in my community with the public. My photos from the PA campaign were published in the Coast Guard’s Compass blog and in their social media accounts — mission accomplished!
Pictured left: Lt. Jonna Clouse, from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., gives a thumbs-up to the towing supervisor while the MH-65C Dolphin helicopter she will soon fly back to Traverse City is towed to the ramp at Air Facility Waukegan, Ill., July 31, 2013. AIRFAC Waukegan is a seasonal location of AIRSTA Traverse City that rotates a crew and aircraft every two weeks. U.S. Coast Guard photo by auxiliarist Jonathan Roth.

At the tail-end of my summer internship, 14 tall ships from the United States, Canada and Norway sailed into Chicago on a stop of the Tall Ships Challenge 2013 series. The work of multiple area agencies, including the Coast Guard, made possible this event, which drew an estimated one million visitors to the city’s Navy Pier. To understand the extensive preparation and planning that goes into smoothly running such an event, I shadowed just one of many Coast Guard teams working throughout the five-day festival. With a Chief Warrant Officer and two Marine Science Technicians, I boarded the S.S. Sørlandet, a 210-foot Norwegian full-rigged tall ship, to observe a safety inspection before general visitors were allowed aboard. We received a full tour of the ship by the crew and I watched as the inspectors from MSU Chicago ensured that the ship was in full compliance in the United States. The photos I took from this tour were published in a photo release, which caught the attention of The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel later aired a phone interview with the Coast Guard and used my photos in a slideshow.

Pictured right: Roth poses with Cmdr. Jason Neubauer,
commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago; Lt. Cmdr. Stacy Miller, executive officer; and Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf on the tall ship Sorlandet at Navy Pier in Chicago, Aug. 8, 2013. Roth was a Coast Guard Ninth District public affairs intern with Haraf at MSU Chicago for eight weeks. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Seeing my photos on television ended my internship with a great sense of accomplishment. Not just for myself, but also in the goal of promoting the Coast Guard’s activities to the taxpayers that we serve. My mentor and I logged many late nights to meet deadlines — especially at the USO at Navy Pier, where I survived on their candy — but the experience provided an unforgettable insight into the professional world and the proud service that men and women are committed to every day.

First of the First: LT Ryan Kilgo, AUP's "First Graduate", reflects on his AUP experience

posted Dec 3, 2013, 4:45 PM by Andrew Welch   [ updated Dec 3, 2013, 4:46 PM ]

Ryan Kilgo, then a cadet at The Citadel, underway off of Ft Sumter in Charleston, SC
Ryan Kilgo, AUP Unit at The Citadel Class of 2007, shared some of his experiences in AUP before it was even called "AUP".

In September 2006, nearly forty cadets at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, met in a small conference room with one thing in common: an interest in the Coast Guard. A corps-wide e-mail invited anyone attracted to a career in the Coast Guard -- whether Officer or Enlisted, Active Duty or Reserves -- to meet in Mark Clark Hall. In attendance was Lt. Ryan Kilgo, who, at the time, was a senior on Regimental Staff and an MST3 in the Coast Guard Reserve. 

Pictured Right: Ryan Kilgo, then a cadet at The Citadel and a Reserve MST3, underway off of Ft Sumter in Charleston, SC.

Kilgo recalls, “Ryan Finn, a friend of mine who was thinking about enlisting in the Coast Guard, called the meeting. When I arrived I saw cadets in every seat and even standing along walls. After the meeting, I turned to Ryan and said, ‘we need to do something with these names on your roster.’” 
Ryan Kilgo (on right) with CWO Tom Gelwicks at Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduation
The two cadets later met in the Cadet Activities Department to register an official Coast Guard organization on campus. After developing a constitution and recruiting the supervision of The Citadel’s first Coast Guard Tack Officer, Chief Warrant Officer Tom Gelwicks, The Citadel Coast Guard Society was established. As the Society’s senior cadet, Kilgo served as its first Commander and began to organize meetings and invite guest speakers. 

Pictured Left: Newly minted ENS Kilgo (on right) with CWO Tom Gelwicks at Officer Candidate School (OCS) graduation.

“The greatest experience I had was watching the group grow. It went from the leadership developing the organization to the organization thriving on its own” said Kilgo. He goes on to explain how one of the sophomores in the group was so excited that he decided to create a t-shirt to serve as our official physical training attire. “It was then that I realized this group was only going to last if everyone felt empowered to advance the organization.” 

Ryan Kilgo photographed during his first tour as an active duty officer at MSU Houma
Three days before graduating from The Citadel, Kilgo learned he and his college roommate, Brian DuBois, were both selected to attend Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in the fall. On December 12, 2007, the newly commissioned Ensigns received their first salutes from their mentor, CWO Gelwicks, before they headed off to opposite ends of the United States. Lt. Kilgo was assigned to a Marine Inspections billet in Houma, Louisiana and Lt. DuBois was assigned to serve aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. 

Pictured Right: Then LTJG Kilgo photographed during his first tour as an active duty officer at MSU Houma.

LT Kilgo now serves as the Senior Investigating Officer at Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh. There, he oversees all marine inspections and investigation activities. Previously, he was the AUP Innovation Program Manager, and as the alumnus recognized as being “AUP’s First Graduate”, made great contributions developing the program that it has become today. He is happily married and has an energetic 13 month old son.

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