Captain Joanna Hiigel is currently assigned as USCG Pacific Area Reserve Chief of Staff/ Senior Reserve Officer after completing duties as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Reserve Unit, US Transportation Command and deploying in support of global COVID-19 Response operations. She graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1995 and reported to USCGC ACTIVE in Port Angeles, WA where she served as Officer of the Deck (OOD), Boarding Officer, Weapons Officer and First Lieutenant.
In 1997, Captain Hiigel reported to Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) Gulf where she served as the Officer-In-Charge of Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 8B located in Mobile, AL deploying with US and Dutch Naval vessels with a follow-on tour at Group Seattle as the Assistant Operations Officer.
In 2000, Captain Hiigel transitioned into the USCG Reserve and served at Group/Air Station Port Angeles, WA, followed by Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, PR and Sector Mobile, AL. In 2009, Caption Hiigel transferred to Alameda, CA. During that time, Caption Hiigel completed Active Duty supporting the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response and the commissioning of USCGC STRATTON with a follow-on tour at Sector Columbia River in Astoria, OR as the Senior Reserve Officer.
In 2015, Captain Hiigel transferred to US Indo Pacific Command (US INDOPACOM) in Hawaii. She supported the annual BAKAMLA joint exercise in Indonesia, served as liaison to an Australian government official during a bilateral exercise and completed Active Duty Incident Commander duties in support of Sector New York dielectric oil spill and Incident Management for Coast Guard District 7 following the 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
From 2017-2019, Captain Hiigel served as the District Thirteen Reserve Chief of Staff leading 350 Pacific Northwest Reserve Personnel. She deployed in support of Hurricane Lane, US INDOPACOM and US SOUTHCOM exercises, as well as WestPac missions in the Philippines.
Captain Hiigel has a Master of Arts degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from the American Military University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Coast Guard Academy. She earned Type 2 Incident Commander, Type 3 Liaison Officer and Planning Section Chief Incident Management qualifications. Military decorations include a Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, three Coast Guard Commendation medals, five Coast Guard Achievement Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, one Global War On Terror Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal and one Armed Forces Reserve Medal. She has been married for 26 years to Captain Mark Hiigel, USCG and has three children, USCGA 3/C Cadet Ellie Hiigel, Hermana Tana Hiigel- completing a Spanish language service mission, and high school swimmer, Kendra Hiigel.