Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the nineteenth 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.

Reserve Command Master Chief Russell G. Lockey
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
District 13 (Seattle)

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Q. Where is your hometown?
A. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and currently living in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard? Prior AD, prior service?
A. In total, 30+ years of combined reserve and active duty time. I enlisted December 2, 1985 and remained on active duty until September 2, 1995. Since then, I’ve served as a reservist.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. I wanted to stop drug runners and save people.

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves? If so, where and when?
A. From March 2003 through Aug 2003, I was recalled to support Group Hampton Roads. As the only qualified reserve SAR (Search and Rescue) controller at the group, I was recalled when one of the active duty members was transferred early. From Dec 2010 to Sep 2012, I was on extended active duty, working for the Bridge Administration Branch in the 17th Coast Guard District (Alaska) and conducting navigability determination in anticipation of construction of the Trans Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. As the Reserve Command Master Chief for the 13th Coast Guard District, my primary responsibility is to advise the District Commander on issues and initiatives pertaining to Coast Guard Reserve members and their families within the District.

Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?
A. There are no typical days for a Command Master Chief, as every day presents new challenges. I try to visit each unit a minimum of once a year, including All Hands meetings. I also spend some time at Coast Guard Headquarters to discuss issues that may impact our reserve workforce.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. I loved working Aids to Navigation (buoys) in Alaska when I was the Operations Officer on Coast Guard Cutter Firebush, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. Also, as a SAR controller in New Orleans, I remember a case where I worked with a local TV station’s helicopter to determine the extent of an oil rig fire.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard?
A. I am a stay-at-home dad and part-time attorney at law.

Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?
A. Being self employed makes it easy for me to work when it is best for the Coast Guard, which is not always on the weekends.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A: Although not a legal officer, I was able to use my legal skills to help complete the evaluation of more than 80 waterways in Alaska to determine which ones were federal waters, requiring Coast Guard permits for bridge crossings.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. We bring additional manpower to the service when necessary. We are a force multiplier for major events like Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon and significant local events like Seafair in Seattle.

Q. Anything else you’d like for us to know/include?
A. After enlisting and spending a year with the Honor Guard, I attended Officer Candidate School. After graduation and three tours as a junior officer, I resigned my commission and went to law school. After law school, I wanted to come back into the service and the way I made my way back was to enlist a reserve QM2. I worked my way up the enlisted ranks and eventually attained the rank of Master Chief. I’m proud to serve as the Reserve Command Master Chief of the 13th District in my current role.

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