180 days. A half-year separated from family and friends. A half-year in the hustle and bustle of deployed life. Members of Maritime Safety and Security Team 91109 San Diego have been immersed in the intense and essential security operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A nonstop, 24-hour, seven days a week, pace.
In this type of intense environment, the crews rely on their leadership to keep them focused, on-task and motivated. From daily assignments to career development to emotional support, these leaders are the glue that binds the team.
One of the newest leaders is not only guiding the members in his unit but also going beyond what is being asked of him.
Petty Officer 1st Class Frederick Woods was recently assigned to MSST 91109 as Lead Petty Officer in the Shoreside Unit. A role requiring him to act as a conduit for information between his supervisors and those in his division along with keeping his team running smoothly. With only a month on the job, Woods has stood out as a leader and mentor.
“One of the biggest things from a supervisory perspective, is that he’s very open and honest with me,” said Lt. j.g. Aaron Dorrian, Shoreside Security Division Officer and supervisor to Woods. “You can tell he has a genuine concern for his shipmates and he works hard to take care of them.”
While deployed, MSST 91109 is in charge of security on both land and water, known as Shoreside and Waterside divisions. These security watches cover a range of responsibilities from securing the perimeter around the base to providing security during military trials of suspected terrorists. Woods’ 11-person team is a vital part of the shoreside mission.
And, what little time he has for himself, Woods devotes to his team.
“In addition to standing watch at night or day, he’s in here regularly on his days off taking care of shipmates,” said Dorrian. “Whether it be minor things from liberty requests to schedule adjustments, all the way up to helping his shipmates submit packets to take their [advancement] tests.
Being a reservist and also having spent time on active duty, Woods adds the unique experience and understanding of both worlds.
“He’s a got a positive attitude, always showing initiative and always willing to be there for the members in his squad,” said Chief Petty Officer Edwin Schulze, Waterside Division Chief and Woods’ previous supervisor. “He has the experience with working with active duty members and he knows how the active duty as well as the reserve side work.”
Beyond Coast Guard experience, Woods has demonstrated maturity in his leadership.
“One of the things that he’s able to do and that he does well is he’s able to see the big picture,” said Dorrian. “It isn’t easy, especially when you’re deployed over here. Sometimes you get tunnel vision on the issues at hand and you can lose track of everything else. What I’ve noticed he’s able to do is take a step back and see the big picture.”
Being deployed and away from the comforts of home is a challenge in itself. Woods’ devotion to duty and empathy for his shipmates keeps the focus on the mission to ensure all hands return home safe and sound.