6 ways Auxiliarists can support their local units

By John Saran, AUXPA1, District Captain East, Auxiliary Ninth Western Region (CG District 9)

John Saran is an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Here are his suggestions on how best to integrate Auxiliary members with operational active duty units. These suggestions will also be presented during an Auxiliary segment at the 2024 Sector Lake Michigan CO/OIC Conference.

Below are the top six general pathways that Auxiliarists should explore to support local boat stations:

  1. Search and Rescue (SAR) & Training Support – Trained and qualified Auxiliary crews (coxswains and crewmembers) can provide additional SAR and training support for local boat stations. For example, Chicago Division 35 provided such support in July 2023 for Coast Guard Station Chicago. Over the course of two weeks, Auxiliary crews spent over two hundred hours conducting patrols and being on SAR standy, resulting in the prosecution of numerous SAR cases. Careful planning of patrols can ensure that Auxiliary operational time is optimized for lifesaving missions. 

    Auxiliary boat and air crews can also provide training support to local boat stations, whether it’s providing boat facilities for two-boat training, conducting AUXAIR fixed-wing aircraft operations or engaging in formal SAR exercises.  For example, this past summer, on Lake Michigan in the Ninth District, there were three SAR-related training exercises involving several units. Coverage of the first event at Coast Guard Station Michigan City can be found here. The second event occurred on the same weekend in early June at Coast Guard Station Charlevoix in the Traverse City, Michigan area involving Team Coast Guard personnel (including Ninth Central Auxiliarists) and four members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.  The final event occurred at Coast Guard Station St. Joseph and Coast Guard Station Michigan City in September and involved active duty, reserve and Auxiliary (Ninth Western Region) crews from three states that manned six surface facilities and one AUXAIR aircraft.

  2. Watchstanding As stations might rotate personnel and prioritize active duty watchstanding capabilities for certain SAR and other lifesaving missions, there may be opportunities for Auxiliarists to fill in as watchstanders. Not only would this provide greater coverage for active duty operations, but also help ensure that Auxiliary operations occur.

  3. Culinary Assistance Small boat stations with galleys may have culinary specialist personnel gaps that Auxiliary culinary assistants could fill. Qualified members could help maintain station morale by supporting the culinary mission and provide liberty and/or training time for active duty culinary specialists. In the Ninth District, Auxiliary culinary assistants cooked meals during SAR exercises at Coast Guard Station Michigan City and Coast Guard Station St. Joseph, provided galley coverage at Coast Guard Station Grand Haven during the Coast Guard Festival so that personnel could engage in training and hosted a chili cookoff at Coast Guard Station Chicago.

  4. Seasonal Station Smalls Since crews at all seasonal station smalls will be transferred to their parent commands, there could be opportunities for the Auxiliary to have a presence at such seasonal stations. Such presence could range from holding meetings, public education events, fellowship events, open houses and other activities to utilizing such stations for Auxiliary patrols. A good example of this occurred in the Ninth District, where nearly 50 Auxiliarists, led by the District Staff Officer for Operations, District Captain and local AUC, supported the active duty personnel in keeping Station (Small) Wilmette Harbor operational. This Auxiliary team provided 18 patrols that supplemented the active duty’s coverage and held events at the station to maintain a presence.

  5. Public Affairs Many stations engage in public affairs activities, whether it’s hosting open houses, participating in community events or maintaining an active social media presence. Use of social media is important now more than ever. Auxiliarists can assist stations in covering the accomplishments of their shipmates to assist in retention, showcasing Coast Guard missions as a recruiting tool and providing important information to the public. However, public affairs and social media manager duties are collateral to other duties around the station for personnel. Accordingly, stations could look to qualified Auxiliarists to support their station’s public affairs mission.

  6. Fellowship Many shipmates at small boat stations might be facing life-changing transitions, such as transferring to other units and re-located across the country. Auxiliarists can tap into their life experiences and provide fellowship support to these individuals as they navigate these changes. An informal cookoff event, as an example, might help provide a temporary reprieve and a taste of home for station personnel.

Auxiliary Unit Coordinators (AUC) should seek guidance from their active duty and reserve unit commands. While boat station needs will inevitably vary across the country, unit commanders and Auxiliary leadership should consider these opportunities for Auxiliary support.


Published in MYCG at 6 ways Auxiliarists can support their local units > United States Coast Guard > My Coast Guard News (uscg.mil)