Life in the Coast Guard

By KATIE FISCHER

Joining the Guard

Michael Saturnino. Photo by Amanda Fischer
Michael Saturnino. Photo by Amanda Fischer

After completing his associate degree in biology from Sierra College, Saturnino transferred to the University of Sacramento to earn his bachelor’s in biology. It was here that Saturnino decided to join the Coast Guard in 2013.

Daily Duties

Saturnino is currently stationed in Tybee Island, Georgia, aboard the USCG Cutter Tarpon, which is an 87 foot Coastal Patrol Boat. The vessel contains a 12-man crew that consists of 10 males and two females.

When the crew is underway, which means that the boat is not currently anchored, they have many tasks to perform to make sure they are ready for action at any time.

“Doing maintenance on the engines and generators that propel the boat, as well as on the zodiac that is aboard the boat,” Saturnino said are just a few of the activities the crew members are responsible for.

The zodiac is a 17-inch inflatable boat that is aboard the Cutter Tarpon that the crew uses on rescue missions.

Fun with the Crew

Although crew members keep busy while they are underway performing the aforementioned tasks, they do have plenty of downtime that they need to fill. Much of the time is filled doing normal activities such as reading, watching television, working out or playing cards. However, the crew does manage to have some fun at each other’s expense.

“People do silly things like hide people’s hats or put their sunglasses in a glass of water and put it in the freezer or cayenne pepper in their boots, but nothing too crazy,” Saturnino said. “After all, you have to live with the people you are pranking.”

Even though the crew keeps busy and builds bonds of camaraderie while underway, members of the Coast Guard are often so busy being on duty that they will go weeks or months away from family. Saturnino says that being away from his friends and family is the hardest part of his job. His girlfriend, Amanda Fischer, understands how important his job is.

“Everything about the military involves some sort of sacrifice, and that includes quality time with the ones you love,” Fischer said. “I’m just proud to support him.”

In 2013, the Coast Guard saved 3,263 lives on over 17,000 rescues. Even with these statistics, a recent poll showed that only three percent of Americans believe that it is the most prestigious branch of the military. The Coast Guard may be the smallest branch of the military, but the men and women who are members continue to sacrifice to be able to assist and save the lives of those who are stranded.

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