Semper Paratus: Reservists stay qualified to answer the nation’s call

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Misjuns scores a target that qualified at the gun range at Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. Coast Guardsmen needed a score of 114 out of 150 to qualify on the Basic Pistol Marksmanship Course. Coast Guardsmen, most of them reservists with Sector Baltimore's Vessel Boarding Security Team, came out to the range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical part of maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Misjuns scores a target that qualified at the gun range at Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. Coast Guardsmen needed a score of 114 out of 150 to qualify on the Basic Pistol Marksmanship Course. Coast Guardsmen, most of them reservists with Sector Baltimore’s Vessel Boarding Security Team, came out to the range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical part of maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Story and photos by PA3 Lisa Ferdinando

Sector Baltimore reservists took their spots at the gun range at Fort Meade, Md., on a sunny Sunday morning in September, intently focused on the target in front of them.

“Is the line ready?” asked Petty Officer 1st Class Martin Misjuns, a gunner’s mate and a member of the sector’s Vessel Boarding Security Team, who coordinates firearms training for reservists.

The Coast Guardsmen, donned in protective gear and each armed with a .40-caliber pistol, prepared to take aim.

After eying each participant for adherence to safety and security protocols, Misjuns called out: “The line is ready!” and blew a whistle, signifying firing could begin.

Reservists from small boat stations and the sector’s VBST were among the more than 30 Coast Guardsmen who were on the range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications.

Chief Petty Officer Theodore Ford of Coast Guard Station Annapolis gives weapons instruction in Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. More than 30 Coast Guardsmen from Sector Baltimore, most of them reservists with the Vessel Boarding Security Team, went to the gun range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical component in maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Chief Petty Officer Theodore Ford of Coast Guard Station Annapolis gives weapons instruction in Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. More than 30 Coast Guardsmen from Sector Baltimore, most of them reservists with the Vessel Boarding Security Team, went to the gun range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical component in maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

The readiness of reservists benefits the entire Coast Guard, said Misjuns. “If something happens, they know they can call us, and we can go anywhere they need us to go.”

There are more than 500 reservists within Sector Baltimore’s departments and units, serving important roles that defend and protect the nation, safeguard the American public, and support the missions of the Coast Guard. The rates include BM, GM, HS, ME, MK, MST, OS, PA, SK, and YN, as well as officer positions.

Maintaining qualifications and staying current on administrative and medical matters keep members in the green, ready to deploy for any situation they are needed, said Master Chief Petty Officer Mark Allen, reserve force master chief.

Readiness is especially important, since reservists often deploy with little notice, said Allen.

“When we each raised our right hand and solemnly swore to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’ we did not swear to do so after we catch up on our mobilization readiness.”

Chief Petty Officer Theodore Ford, a boatswain’s mate at Station Annapolis, said reservists who maintain all readiness can hit the ground running when the call does come, instead of having to play catch-up.

“The whole push with reserves is readiness and being deployable,” said Ford. “Whenever the next national event or national need comes up, you have a workforce of people to be recalled into service who can actively go to work the day they arrive.”

In addition to weapons qualifications, Ford noted, members from his station and other small boat stations must stay current in a number of other areas, including as boat crew members and boarding officers.

In the last 13 years, reservists from Sector Baltimore and the entire Coast Guard have played critical roles in responding to national emergencies, including the attacks of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Reservists have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and on other international missions.

Coast Guard Lt. Tara Collins fires a handgun during semi-annual weapons qualifications in Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. More than 30 Coast Guardsmen from Sector Baltimore, most of them reservists with the Vessel Boarding Security Team, went to the gun range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical component in maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Coast Guard Lt. Tara Collins fires a handgun during semi-annual weapons qualifications in Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 15, 2013. More than 30 Coast Guardsmen from Sector Baltimore, most of them reservists with the Vessel Boarding Security Team, went to the gun range to complete their semi-annual weapons qualifications, a critical component in maintaining readiness. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

“On any given day, you will find the talented and dedicated men and women of the Coast Guard Reserve training locally to support a variety of Coast Guard missions across the country and around the world,” said Adm. Robert Papp, the commandant of the Coast Guard, in a message in February marking the 73rd anniversary of the Reserve. “As we have seen from security support operations in Guantanamo Bay to response operations following Superstorm Sandy, the Coast Guard Reserve provides our nation with crucial and effective capability that allows us to remain the world’s best Coast Guard,” he said.

 Back at the gun range, Petty Officer 3rd Class Christiaan Conover, a boatswain’s mate at Station Annapolis, noted reservists do the same jobs as their active-duty counterparts, whether at a station or while deployed.

“We have to come out here and qualify just like the active-duty Coast Guard,” he said. “The more [qualifications] we have, the better we can be effectively deployed.”

At the end of the day, Conover and his shipmates all qualified on the .40-caliber pistol, enabling them to maintain competencies required to carry out law enforcement missions of the Coast Guard and keeping them ready for deployment when the call comes.

Sector Baltimore reservists, among the more than 8,000 reserve members Coast Guard-wide, stand ready to answer the nation’s call.

“America can call at any time. Get ready, and stay ready!” reminds Allen.

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