Petersburg Pilot -

Petersburg man elected to lead Coast Guard Auxiliary

 

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In October, Petersburg's Bruce Jones was sworn in as District Commodore of Coast Guard Auxillary District 17, a statewide volunteer organization that assists the USCG in carrying out its mission.

A Petersburg resident will be stepping up to statewide duties, following an October election where volunteer members of District 17 Coast Guard Auxiliary tapped Bruce Jones to take the helm.

Initially, he said he had approached the volunteer group as a means to stay occupied during retirement, but quickly found himself again caught up in his work.

"I've been working my way up the ranks, from the bottom to the very top," Jones said. "I served a year or so as a flotilla commander, two years as a division commander - that was for all of southeast, then served two years as the district chief of staff. Now I've just been elected to become the district commodore for 2015-2016."

While he will be taking on statewide responsibilities, Jones said he will mostly be able to administer from home, and has no plans to leave the waters where he's been anchored for so long.

"I've owned my own boat for quite a while," he said. "Since I came into the auxiliary I became crew qualified on the Coast Guard patrol boats, the 27-foot (response boat-small) and became a coxswain on the 27 and the (25-foot) fast rescue boats."

Though never a member of the Coast Guard himself, Jones found some familiarity from his experience in the Marine Corps, as well as his time serving on several local public boards, experience as city manager and history with the Petersburg Indian Association, where he laid off himself and several other tribal administrators in 2013 to balance the budget.

"We're a uniformed civilian volunteer force that the Coast Guard uses," he summarized. "We do everything right alongside the Coast Guard folks except law enforcement and combat duty."

This casts the group in the role of observing and assisting, filling in patrols and responding to rescues or other calls for assistance. Though some other districts across the nation also have a volunteer air component, that is not the case for Alaska. About 34,000 volunteers are spread across the nation, with about 480 in Alaska, under Jones' soon-to-be command, he said.

The auxiliary is always accepting new members, and while some basic criteria must be fulfilled for candidates, "we always have somebody to help move people through," he said.

Those interested may contact Rod Herbrandson, Petersburg Flotilla Commander at 541-990-8226 or Rich Patteson, Petersburg Vice Flotilla Commander at 907-518-4148.

 

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