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It was May 2009 when Mary “Dazy” DeSena ventured down to Lake Michigan’s shoreline with her family. The DeSenas, a Navy family, were stationed at U.S. Naval Station Great Lakes at the time and wanted to learn more about the region. The family headed to Coast Guard Station Wilmette, Il., to enjoy the local Coast Guard’s annual open house. DeSena was immediately impressed by the vast responsibilities and missions of the men and women at the station and she wanted to help out; she wanted to be part of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Thinking it would be impossible to join, she started talking with the crew and learned about the Coast Guard Auxiliary – the all-volunteer group of men and women who augment Coast Guard forces. In awe of the opportunity available to her, she started her enrolment process in the Coast Guard Auxiliary right then and there.
Over the next two years, DeSena immersed herself in the activities of her home flotilla and station and did so in a big way. While simultaneously training for boat operations, she also participated with public affairs and stood watch at a number of boat shows sharing boating safety resources.
But, as any military family knows, change is a single constant and DeSena’s husband soon received orders to report to Bahrain in spring 2010. DeSena had made a lot of new shipmates in her short time with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and she said a tearful goodbye to her colleagues. As she left for overseas, DeSena put aside her Coast Guard blue. Or so she thought.
Upon reporting to Bahrain, she soon realized just how global the Coast Guard’s impact was. DeSena found out about U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Manama, Bahrain. Patrol Forces Southwest Asia is the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside the United States and is comprised of six 110-foot cutters, shore side support personnel, advanced interdiction teams, the Middle East Training Team and other deployable specialized forces operating throughout. They partner up with military and international partners to perform missions in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
She met with leadership in Bahrain and discussed her willingness to learn more about the service’s overseas mission and continue her support of the Coast Guard through the Auxiliary. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she soon became the region’s only auxiliarist. Working on the other side of the world as her Coast Guard Auxiliary counterparts, she soon was helping out in any way she could.
Starting in the administrative offices, she provided vital support assistance to the region’s personnel. Assisting the medical division with paperwork and sick call patient care, she enhanced the medical readiness of the unit. She also ensured the readiness of the unit as a whole by managing pay and administrative requirements.
As word of DeSena’s valued presence spread through Bahrain’s Coast Guard community, there were soon opportunities in virtually every department. In the deck department, DeSena provided shore-side maintenance support to cutters during ports visits. She also helped in maintaining the cutters by providing inport services which include cleaning the ship and small paint projects.
“Dazy’s love for her family, her country, the Coast Guard and her shipmates; these are all reflected in her abilities, dedication to the job at hand and with everyone she interacts with,” said Steven Evenstad, a shipmate and member of the Auxiliary.
DeSena has gone above and beyond in her volunteer efforts with the Coast Guard. But as was noted earlier, change is a single constant for the military, and as of this writing her husband has again received orders. DeSena and her family are off to a new adventure but wherever she ends up you can guarantee she will go above and beyond the call of duty.
Co-authored by Auxiliarist Steven Evenstad.