An Auxiliarist from District 7 is commissioned Ensign in the Coast Guard Reserve.
Master-at-Arms Second Class, MA2 Gary Rodriguez, U.S. Navy Reserve (USNR), was looking to engage in community service beyond his Navy Reserve billet. He was aware of the USCG Auxiliary and the closest flotilla to him, Flotilla 69, Opa-locka, hold their monthly meetings at CG Air Station Miami. “The Auxiliary has a diversity in ideas and a desire to help the Coast Guard in their mission sets,” Rodriguez said. It seems a perfect fit, so he enrolled in the USCG Auxiliary in the summer of 2020. At the time the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, face-to-face meetings were on hold, and interaction with the public was restricted.

After Auxiliarist Rodriguez completed his FEMA courses and his Core Training was behind him, flotilla leadership directed his attention to the numerous mission area training programs. His goal was to gain more understanding of the organization while helping the local community. About two months into his Auxiliary service, his attention was drawn to the Operational Auxiliarist (AUXOP) program. The AUXOP training program gave him a well-rounded perspective about the Auxiliary and what the organization does. He began pouring over the books (so to speak) and completed all the courses necessary to become AUXOP qualified in a matter of weeks.

Gary’s first exposure with active-duty Coast Guard was when the Sector Miami Commander, Captain Jo-Anne Burdian (now Rear Admiral) needed someone to assist at the front desk. Working in the office of then-Captain Burdian gave Auxiliarist Rodriguez a firsthand look at how Coast Guard officers work. His military bearing and professional demeanor were qualities that were noticed. Captain Burdian treated him as part of the team and encouraged him to be involved with leadership at Sector Miami.

He continues studying and taking classes, now focusing his attention on marine safety, a subject he feels passionate about. Upon qualifying in Marine Safety, he was appointed Flotilla Staff Officer-Marine Safety (FSO-MS) where he engaged with the active-duty Marine Science Technicians (MST) at Sector Miami. He aspires to contribute significantly to environmental protection and play a vital role in advancing the Coast Guard's commitment to environmental stewardship. In short order, he assumed the position of Division Staff Officer-Marine Safety (SO-MS), thereby fostering a deeper and more impactful connection between active-duty MST personnel and the CG Auxiliary. He is driven and eager to contribute towards improvements. “I enjoyed my time assisting active duty. They were always welcoming of my input and considered me part of the family”, he told me.

While he was working with Sector, Auxiliarist Gary Rodriguez submitted his paperwork to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve (USCGR). On Saturday, August 5, 2023, Ensign Gary Rodriguez was commissioned into the officer’s corps of the USCGR. Present at the ceremony were members of his family, sailors from his previous Navy Reserve unit, a few friends, and three shipmates from Flotilla 69, Opa-locka. We congratulate ENS Gary Rodriguez, USCGR, for his dedication to duty and willingness to serve his country.