Not your Average Joe

By Auxiliarist Trey Clifton


Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing, especially in the case of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist Joe Safranek. Having previously served his country in the U.S. Air Force for 15 years as well as being a HAM Radio operator, Joe possessed a few qualities his friends thought the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary could benefit from, and it was their friendly, yet constant, peer pressure that got him to join. Joe even admits it was “two friends who were bugging me” who finally talked him into it.

Hidden away in Hudgins, Virginia, Safranek works at U.S. Coast Guard Station Milford Haven, where he puts his skills to work as a radio watchstander. Since 2009, he has contributed more than 5,000 hours as a radio watchstander alone, in addition to his involvement with the boat forces program and other auxiliary activities.

Safranek’s proficiency certainly doesn’t go unnoticed, when asked about having him at the station as a watchstander, Chief Petty Officer Brian Martin, Station Milford Haven’s officer in charge, said Safranek is “like a professional communications expert … this is what he’s done his entire life.” Not only is Safranek extremely proficient at radio watchstanding, he’s also a valuable team member when it comes to training and mentoring new coasties as radio watchstanding. Martin also said young coasties fresh out of boot camp look at Safranek as a mentor, a granddad type who can talk to about anything.141212-G-ZZ999-262

In addition to helping new coasties get qualified as watchstanders, Safranek enjoys being one of the station’s honorary granddads and being a sounding board of wisdom and guidance. Safranek said “You see them as a non-rate here, and then you see them in Portsmouth or somewhere else and they have a stripe or two on their arm.”

From being on the airwaves to being on the waves of the bay and teaching others how to do the same, Safranek enjoys it all; “There’s nothing really in the auxiliary I dislike.” He’s not just saying it, in Safranek’s eight-year auxiliary career; he is credited with almost 18,000 hours of service to his nation and the Coast Guard.   Watchstander, mentor, sounding board, granddad, and inspiration; Safranek is a lot of things. The one thing he’s not is an average Joe.