Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the thirteenth 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.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Chris LaRocque
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Port Security Unit 313 (Everett, WA)

LaRocque Dolphin Ride

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I was raised in Austin, TX, which is where I still reside.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. I’m a pure reservist. I enlisted in the Coast Guard Reserve 3.5 years ago. Two years later, I attended Reserve Officer Candidate Indoctrination (ROCI) to earn my commission. I’m currently deployed on involuntary Title 10 orders for one year, so this is my first taste of being on active duty.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. I truly joined to serve my country. My family members before me have served in every branch of U.S. military except for the Coast Guard, so I’m the first in that respect. Now that I have a son, I’m excited to have the opportunity to earn my full Post 9/11 GI Bill, so I can transfer it and pay for his college. Plus, my wife loves me dressed up in uniform!

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves?
A. I’m currently on my first deployment. I am on Title 10 orders for one year.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. While deployed, I am the Logistics Department Head for the Maritime Security Detachment. I’m the Port Security Unit (PSU) 313 division officer for Supply and Administration and serve as the Education Services Officer. Additionally, my staff takes care of Housing, Master at Arms and Medical.

Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?
A. A typical day can range wildly from organizing visits from distinguished guests at the Flag level to getting a shipmate home on Emergency Leave. As a detachment, we also need to find ways to acquire the supplies and equipment we need to maintain operations. I am in constant contact with the Command, as well as the in-garrison leadership, in order to maintain clear communication and keep the detachment unit running smoothly.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. Some of the more special moments in my reserve career include riding in a Dolphin (helicopter) as an escort for Rear Admiral DeQuatrro and landing on a cutter that was underway. Also, I was able to tour the LaRocque USCGC EagleCoast Guard Cutter Eagle when it stopped in Charleston while I was in Maritime Enforcement (ME) “A” school. The day we went wheels up for this deployment was probably the most stressful and the most amazing experience for me so far. As the Logistics officer, that evolution was my baby and I was completely responsible for the success or failure of our movement from our home unit in Everett, WA to SEATAC International Airport and then to our ultimate destination. I was very proud of my planning and execution to get the unit here, on time and without error.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?
A. I work as a project manager for GSA in Austin, TX. As a federal employee, I’ve had tremendous support from my civilian senior leadership team throughout my career in the reserves.

Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?
A. It’s a careful balance that involves a big sacrifice at times. Even when I do my IDT drills, I’m traveling from Austin, TX to Everett, WA for a weekend. Every month, I have to schedule a day off of work, spend hours at an airport, travel on a plane and then rent a car to drive another hour to Everett. By the end of a drill weekend and when I finally get home, I’m exhausted. Additionally, my son was born two months before I deployed and I’ll be gone for an entire year. There has never been a challenge so big in all of my life. I couldn’t do any of this without family buy-in.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A. As an officer and current department head, I’m gaining invaluable experience in supervision and problem solving. I’m improving my ability to multi-task and manage my time, as well as work together with other department heads to overcome a myriad of challenges. As a project manager in my civilian career, those abilities are directly applicable for my professional development.

LaRocque ROCI Graduation

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. Being in the reserves and currently deployed gives me great respect for our active duty shipmates who make a lifestyle out of this. Being away from my family is truly the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. Similarly, I’ve observed that the reserve members have a lot of great knowledge and experience to offer. The challenges of the active duty and reserve sides of the house are not bigger or better than those of the other, but different. We are stronger as a service because of one another.

Q. Anything else you’d like for us to know?
A. With all of the challenges and all of the sacrifices, I’m still unbelievably honored to serve my country. I am so proud to represent my family and wear this uniform. I don’t think most people fully appreciate pride for our flag like they would after observing colors on a military base. Watching the world freeze and seeing a child stop on the playground and turn to face the music for that minute or so in complete reverence is pretty special. After that, every national anthem at a ballgame will give you goose bumps.

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