By: Lt. Brad A. Bryan, Sector San Diego
When most people imagine taking a trip to the Virgin Islands, they think of sandy beaches and relaxation. This wasn't the case for a group of dedicated Coast Guard members who spent their fall on St. Croix following the immense devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. These members helped reconstruct vital infrastructure on the island, reestablished normal Coast Guard operations, and restored commerce by ensuring that ports and waterways were fully functional. While the heroic recovery efforts of these members will certainly be remembered in the hearts and minds of many Crucians, the humanitarian efforts they took part in may influence a generation of promising children to join the Coast Guard.
In what little spare time they were allotted, deployed Coast Guard members partnered with Project Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering at-risk youth on St. Croix. These members met with many of the youth and provided educational outreach by talking about different career paths that the Coast Guard has to offer them. The children were full of questions about what it takes to be a Guardian, and were completely sold on joining the Coast Guard after touring our small response boats. Deployed members continued to support Project Promise over the holiday season by hosting a toy drive and delivering wrapped presents to the children on Christmas Day.
I am honored to have served with these Coast Guard members, and proud to know that in a few years we can expect some young, inspired recruits to apply for our service from a tiny island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Reservists Chief Petty Officer James Lee (left) and Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Ross-Corbett talk to at-risk youth from Project Promise about career opportunities in the Coast Guard.
Deployed Coast Guard members pose with at-risk youth from Project Promise after providing a tour of Coast Guard small response boats. [Coast Guard members left to right: LT Brad Bryan (Reserve), MSTC James Lee (Reserve), DCC Mathew Caswell (Reserve), MEC Malcolm Osteen (Reserve), LCDR Michael Shuster (Reserve), MST2 Joseph Ross-Corbett (Reserve), SN Dylan Garcia-Gonzalez (Active), SN Brian Pena-Vera (Active), and BM2 Sean Henry (Active) (not shown but present BM1 Bruce Chiefitz (Active)].