From Land of the Midnight Sun to the Middle East

“That’s a lot of heat for a guy that grew up in Alaska,” said Chief Petty Officer Jason Devin, of the Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore. “It’s okay though, I’m bringing 100 SPF.”

After nearly three years serving aboard Alaska-based Sycamore, Devin – a chief machinery technician and command chief for the cutter – recently traded Cordova’s cold, snowy winter for a hot, sandy summer, as he arrived as the engineer petty officer aboard cutter Wrangell, currently stationed with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, Bahrain.

The Wrangell currently operates in the Northern Persian Gulf region in support of Operation New Dawn where their primary mission is maritime infrastructure protection for critical offshore oil facilities, responsible for more than 90 percent of Iraq’s gross domestic product. The cutter forces cooperate and train with Iraqi and other coalition forces to promote regional security and stability.

Many are unfamiliar with the Coast Guard’s participation in past and current U.S. armed conflicts; however, Coast Guardsmen have made contributions in nearly every U.S. conflict since the service’s creation in 1790. Devin joins that long tradition of service abroad with his assignment to PATFORSWA.

PATFORSWA is currently the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside the United States, 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 the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Selection to this assignment is very competitive in the Coast Guard, and is comprised solely of volunteers. It was pride in his country and a desire to serve in this capacity that led Devin to volunteer.

“I’m very proud of the effort our servicemembers put forth everyday at home and abroad,” he said. “Being that the Coast Guard has assets stationed in that region, I felt an obligation to do anything I could do to contribute to the effort.”

Prior to his transfer, Devin completed several months of mandatory pre-deployment training in Portsmouth, Va.

Although Devin is excited about the new assignment and the opportunity to partner with Coast Guard agencies from other nations in the Middle East, there will be things he will miss. A longtime Alaska resident, raised in North Pole, Alaska, he will miss “The Great Land,” along with the community of Cordova and Sycamore’s crew.

“I know I’ll miss the accessibility of the Alaskan wilderness. There aren’t too many places anymore where you can drive or walk a few miles and be out of cell phone range,” said Devin. “It was nice to be in a small town where folks say hello when you pass by. I really appreciated how welcoming most people were to the Coast Guard families. Often times, Cordova is the most remote location these families have ever been stationed. So, it’s comforting knowing that when we’re underway, the families are in good hands.”

Yet, Alaska won’t be what he misses most.

“I’ll miss the guys on the Sycamore the most,” he said. “We had a pretty good crew. Even with the longer trips and not so great weather, the atmosphere on the boat was usually positive. Most guys just wanted to go out and get the job done and if you’re going to be out there anyway, you might as well have fun doing it.”

Devin will be missed by the Sycamore crew too.

“We are definitely going to miss Chief, but I’m excited for him too,” said Lt. Josh Boyle, the executive officer of the Sycamore, who has also spent a tour in Bahrain. “It should be a great tour, both challenging and rewarding, and the Wrangell is lucky to be getting him. I’m sure it won’t take long before he’s dreaming of cool Cordova weather though; I know I definitely got my fill of the heat over there.”

With his 100 SPF, and the confidence of many, there’s no doubt Devin will bear the heat and burden well, leading by example and continuing to demonstrate for us all what it means to serve.

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