By Commander Joe Buzzella
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — It has been my greatest pleasure to serve as your Coast Guard Air Station Commander for the past two years. I looked back on my time here and came to the realization that although there are many wonderful years ahead for my family and myself in the Coast Guard, nothing will top our experience living in this great Coast Guard City.
I leave this command assignment with no regrets — and that is a good place for an outgoing Commanding Officer to be. Every day in command, I wanted the Air Station leadership to ensure three things: that we were providing the Guardians which Great Lakes deserve; that we were having a lasting positive impact on the lives of our personnel and their families; and that our Air Station was making a difference in the Traverse City community. I felt that a day without having an impact on another person’s life or somewhere in the community was a day wasted.
Words can’t express the respect and passion that I have for the Coast Guard men and women of Air Station Traverse City. In my 27 years of service, I have never seen a group of Coasties that have demonstrated, every day, such a great sense of purpose, unending dedication, and genuine pride in saving lives, protecting the Homeland and serving their community. They are an elite courageous group that is ready for the call and will never let the citizens of the Great Lakes nor our nation down - I can assure you. Worldwide and here locally, I have watched them face down danger; work tirelessly through holidays, weekends and nights; risk their lives to save a life; chase down drug runners; battle hurricanes; stop the illegal flow of migrants; brave the harshest of weather; respond to catastrophic flooding. I have seen them laugh and cry but most moving to me is the way they care for each other.
When it came to ensuring that the Coast Guard families were getting the support they needed, the community of Traverse City came to my rescue.
The Air Station could not maintain the levels of response and readiness that we provide the Great Lakes without the overwhelming support and services provided by the Traverse City community — it would be impossible. Each day this wonderful community, through action, defines the meaning behind the “Coast Guard City” title bestowed upon it by our U.S. Congress in 2010.
I often say that Traverse City is a place out of a storybook. I have never experienced a community that displays such “off the chart” levels of pride, patriotism and charity. I see no better place to retire than with my family on East Bay, watching the helicopters I once flew, fly over my home, a place where those helicopters are woven into the fabric which makes Traverse City the greatest place to live.
Until we meet again, thank you, God bless America and God bless Coast Guard City Traverse City.
Semper Paratus — Always Ready!
About the author: Commander Joe Buzzella served two years, from May of 2011 to June of this year, as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. His next assignment is with the Naval War College in Washington D.C.
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