Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the 22nd 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 First Class Michael Christensen
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Coast Guard Station Seattle

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Q. Where is your hometown?
A. Sunnyside, Washington.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. Seven years active duty and three years reserve.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. Wanted to do something other than college. My grandpa was in the Coast Guard for over 22 years and retired as a chief warrant officer.

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves?
A. No, but I was deployed to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia on board the Coast Guard Cutter Wrangell from 2006 to 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while drilling?
A. I am the training petty officer for alpha squad, a 29-foot Response Boat-Small coxswain and a boarding officer.

image1Q. What does a typical drill day look like?
A. We muster up and conduct boat crew, coxswain and law enforcement training, and boardings when possible.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience since being in the Coast Guard?
A. I have many memorable experiences, but being underway with my shipmates in the Arabian Gulf will always remind me of why the Coast Guard is important. I was also assigned to Motor Life Boat Station Grays Harbor where we responded to a mariner in distress aboard a sailboat. It was an elderly man who was hard of hearing. I was put on board to assist him with safely navigating the bar and quickly determined he was unable to operate the boat by himself and took over. The sailboat had a makeshift cable throttle and an oar rudder which became detached and we lost steering while crossing the bar. The 47-foot MLB crew that was escorting us across quickly came alongside to tow us in. There were no attachment points so I attached the tow line to the mast. The MLB crew took us in tow within 100 feet of colliding with the jetty. We safely moored the boat as a team.

image2Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard?
A. I’m a Washington State Trooper out of Yakima, Washington and assigned to the Yakima Target Zero Team.

Q. What challenges do you face while balancing Coast Guard and civilian life?
A. The hard part was transitioning from active duty to reserve because there is a difference when you are doing the job everyday compared to two days a month.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian job and vice versa?
A. The law enforcement skills I learned go both ways. I went through Boarding Officer School at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center first. That in addition to the law enforcement experience I gained in the Coast Guard helped me when I first started my Washington State Patrol career. My knowledge and law enforcement experience was increased when I went through the WSP Academy. I now use my experiences in both to perform my boarding officer duties. I also use my training and experience to train new boarding team members and boarding officers.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. My active duty experience, where I participated in over 150 cases, aids me in teaching crew members and coxswains things that work in real situations. Being in the reserve component helps augment the active duty by being able to give them a break. With my qualifications I can fill a coxswain and boarding officer position anywhere in the Coast Guard.

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