Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the twelfth post of a month-long question and answer series, introducing members of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest Reserve Force and recognizing their contributions to our country and community.

Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jeff Wildes
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Coast Guard Station Seattle

BMC Jeff Wildes 1

Chief Petty Officer Jeff Wildes grew up in Silverdale, Washington and still resides in the Northwest. He is a boatswain’s mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Seattle as a reserve section chief and coxswain. In his civilian life, he is a paramedic and firefighter with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and is a 17-year veteran of the department.

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I grew up in Silverdale, Washington.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. I have been in the Coast Guard for 14 years and was in the Marine Corps for 4.5 years.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard?
A. To be honest, I wanted to drive fast boats and continue to serve my country after the Marines, so I thought the Coast Guard would be a good fit. Also, my father-in-law was a former BM2 and some of the stories he told sounded pretty cool. So, here I am!

BMC Jeff Wildes 2Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves?
A. I was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 for six months with Port Security Unit 313, Guantanamo Bay for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007-2008 for six months and to Washington, D.C. to work in the National Incident Command Center during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response in 2010.

 

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while drilling?
A. I am a reserve section leader and coxswain responsible for the training and mentoring of the members at Station Seattle. I ensure that my reservists have the appropriate tools and training to obtain and maintain their certifications.

Q. What does a typical drill day look like?
A. Throughout the month, I maintain contact with my chain of command and the active duty chiefs to plan for future operations. I arrive early to make sure the schedule is set, and, when everyone arrives, we muster and get underway to work on maintaining our certifications. We average eight to twelve hours underway during a drill weekend. We also try and conduct our underway training while simultaneously assisting the station with required patrols, events and responding to search and rescue cases.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of cool things, but one of the most memorable experiences was my deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. From the gas and oil platforms to port security at Kuwait Navy Base, the lifelong friendships I made with my shipmates is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Q. What challenges do you face while balancing Coast Guard and civilian life?
A. It can be challenging at times balancing two jobs and family life but I have a very understanding and supportive wife. My girls also love the Coast Guard.

BMC Jeff Wildes on right

 

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian job and vice versa?
A. There are a lot of similarities between my civilian job and the Coast Guard, such as dealing with stressful situations and learning to prioritize tasks. The medical side of my civilian job allows me provide increased patient care in the Coast Guard and the coxswain training helps me with our fire department’s water rescue program.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. We bring a lot of different skill sets that enhance the Coast Guard, whether it is civilian law enforcement, medical or maritime credentials. Additionally, many of us know the area pretty well because we grew up on Puget Sound and have been stationed in the area for a long time. We are a force multiplier for a small service, be it during operations after 9/11, during responses like the Deepwater Horizon or even special events like Opening Day or Seafair.

BMC Jeff Wildes fighting a firesmall

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