Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the third 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.


Maritime Enforcement Specialist, Second Class Alex Konopka

U.S. Coast Guard Reserve

Sector Columbia River Oregon, Sector Boarding Team


Kalen, Alex and Gabriel Konopka


Q. Where is your hometown?

A. Beaverton, OR


Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?

A. Three years, earning my first good conduct medal


Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?

A. I value the Coast Guard mission and I appreciate how unique it is. I had a desire to serve our Country in the most meaningful way I thought possible.

B. I am motivated by the camaraderie among the team of professionals with whom I work. We have shared expectations that we work toward; everyone is expected to lead, contribute, and perform in a variety of training evolutions and operations.


Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves? If so, where and when?

A. I have not been deployed


Konopka trainingQ. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?

A. I am a member of the training cadre, so we are responsible for keeping our crew qualified through ongoing law enforcement task/competency training.

B. I am a qualified Boarding Team Member. We regularly participate in security boardings and joint boardings with local authorities.


Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?

A. All hands meetings, train cadre meetings/discussions, law enforcement training, physical fitness and planning for potential operations


Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?

A. Advancing to E-4 while also earning the MEA-501 Academic Achievement Award at A-School. This award is presented to the member that achieved the highest overall class rank. Exams, evaluations, physical techniques, weapons proficiency, and physical fitness are weighted and scored to produce a single metric that provides your class rank.


Alex Konopka PGEQ. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?

A. I work at Portland General Electric (utility company) as a Contract Specialist in the Landscape Services Department. We manage the landscapes at approximately 185 properties and the restoration of customer property following PGE activity.


Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?

A. It is always a challenge with a young family (we have two boys; Gabe is three years old and Judah is two months old). My wife, Kalen, stays with our sons while I am away at drill and at any other USCG obligations. It is a big commitment to serve, not only for myself, but for her, as well. It is important that our children see service in action and learn about the value and reward of serving our country.


Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?

A. It goes both ways. I have learned a great deal from the USCG; leadership, situational awareness, stress management and self-confidence. I have also applied many of the skills on the civilian-side to the USCG; quick decision making, managing multiple deadlines/expectations, work ethic, critical thinking and process improvement.


Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?

A. Foremost, to be called upon in times of crisis, or to augment active duty.

B. I also believe that reserve members bring an efficient dynamic to the military. In my opinion, the individuals that I serve with are some of the most selfless, professional, and knowledgeable individuals with whom I have ever worked. If you have ever worked with a close-knit group of high-performing people, you know the feeling that I am describing.

C. Having a career in the military and civilian worlds, for me especially opens my eyes to many truths; the value of service, love of country, applying and living our core values and seeing opportunity to improve.


Judah and Gabriel KonopkaQ. Anything else you’d like for us to know/include?

A. I have been married for five years and have two sons (Gabriel three years old, Judah two months old). We are Christians and praise God for all the opportunities we are afforded. I have a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Idaho and have been in the landscape management field for six years. I enjoy sports, music, family time, and serving in the USCG Reserves.

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