Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the tenth 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.

Boatswain’s Mate, Second Class Rachel Tyson
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Coast Guard Station Seattle


Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I grew up in Medical Lake WA, but now I reside in Spokane WA.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. I was on active duty for five years and have been a reservist for three years.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard?
A. Honestly, I wasn’t going anywhere in Spokane. I wanted to travel so I talked to a couple of recruiters and they said that Coast Guard would provide the type of adventure, travel and work life I was seeking.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. My main responsibility is to get our people underway. I am one of three coxswains in my squad, so my primary goal every drill period is to get as many people underway to work on qualifications, so that we don’t fall behind at the end of the year.

Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?
A. We muster at the station at 11 a.m., and then we have quarters. The Chiefs and BM1s pass down if there is any thing that the active duty needs from us. Then, we get underway until about 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The next day is usually saved for law enforcement training and underway time for people who don’t have administrative stuff to get done.

Q. What is your most memorable experience in the Coast Guard?
A. There are a lot of memorable experiences to choose from, but I suppose it would be a time when I was stationed in Portsmouth, VA. We had a search and rescue case at 2 a.m. with a person in the water, suspected to have jumped off a bridge. When we arrived on scene, he had been in the water for at least two hours and hypothermia had set in. We learned that he just had knee surgery on both of his knees and he had been pushed off the bridge into the shallow end of the rocks, breaking both of his legs. He was unable to swim to us so we threw the life ring and pulled him aboard. When he was aboard, he stopped breathing and shivering. We immediately started CPR, revived him and rushed him to an awaiting helicopter for transport to the hospital.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?

A. I am a baker and cook in Spokane.

Q. What challenges do you face balancing Coast Guard and civilian life?
A. Since I live in Spokane, the drive to Seattle for a drill weekend can be difficult. Drilling all weekend and not having any time off before I go back to my civilian job can be tiring.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A. I would say having the ability to get along with people, especially people with different personalities, is a good skill to have. When you’re practically living with the people at your station, it makes it possible to deal with difficult people at work. I’ve also gained the ability to supervise in a respectful manner. I feel that people respect me because I am able to talk to people calmly during stressful times.

Q. How does being a reservist impact the service as a whole?
A. We do a lot to help the active duty crews in ways that allows them some relief on the more tedious and tiring missions. Reservists often take responsibility for missions that increases our productivity, but also allows the active duty crews to tend to things that they may not always have time for because of high operational tempo.

Coast Guard conducts safety, BUI patrols during Seafair

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