If you’re looking for Alaskan adventure and gritty challenges, look no further than Coast Guard Cutter SPAR. Known as the “Aleutian Keeper,” the men and women aboard SPAR continuously brave every mission that comes their way – no easy feat while sailing the waters of the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea.
Homeported in Kodiak, Alaska, the crew meets each challenge by working together. Their seamless teamwork does not go unnoticed and amongst their hardworking crew is Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Flor, a health services technician who has a reputation of being one of the best in the Coast Guard.
As an underway health services technician, Flor serves as the ships independent corpsman, medic and medical training team leader. In short, Flor keeps the crew fit for the buoy decks.
“He embodies work-life sensitivity and expertise,” said Lt. Gordon Hood, SPAR’s executive officer. “As the independent duty health services technician he is also an EMT, CPR instructor, Tricare representative, suicide responder and an advocate. His exceptional working relationship with HSWL Kodiak has allowed SPAR to get top-notch support in all areas and for all shipmates.”
“Doc is an awesome corpsman. He is always there to help regardless of the issue,” added Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicolas Santos, a SPAR crewmember. “The health of the crew is his top priority. He has personally helped several members quit smoking using his knowledge combined with the trust he has built. He is an absolute advocate for the crew in every way and sets a great example.”
Despite his extensive corpsman duties, he still finds time to go above and beyond and helps the crew out in almost every other arena. He is a certified junior officer of the deck, meaning he is responsible for assisting the officer of the deck with the safe navigation and management of crewmembers on watch.
“Petty Officer Flor does much more for the ship than his billeted position onboard,” said Hood. “Despite the ship’s dynamic operational schedule, he is exceptionally flexible and ready to spearhead any task required.”
Flor is also not afraid to get his hands dirty and serves on the buoy deck as a senior qualified deck rigger. This duty is typically reserved for the deck force but “doc” can be seen on the buoy deck in the most frigid conditions conducting aids to navigation evolutions and training junior members.
“HS1 Flor is one of the most experienced members on the buoy deck. In fact, he is often called upon to train many of the new buoy deck riggers,” said Chief Warrant Officer TJ Laster, the ship’s first lieutenant. “HS1 Flor routinely stands four to eight hours of watch and then another eight to ten hours on the buoy deck. In my opinion, every buoy tender could use a corpsman with HS1 Flor’s knowledge and commitment.”
His latest work has transcended past the bridge and even past the buoy deck. During SPAR’s annual trip to Old Harbor, Alaska, to work on local aids to navigation, Flor spearheaded a community outreach project at the local school. The native high school students have extremely limited access outside Old Harbor and are mostly unaware of what is available to them. With this in mind, Flor set up a vocational career fair where a large number of subject matter experts hosted the children to let them know about future job opportunities, what it took to become a competent professional and how their skill could be useful in the future. The event was meant to show the students that while they may not have to leave their villages forever, there are certainly some useful skills to learn that could be beneficial once brought back. It was a successful day and one the ship plans on making part of their annual trip to Old Harbor.
Flor’s exceptional medical skills paired with his ability to stand the watch alongside his shipmates and his community proves that he is undeniably an “Aleutian Keeper.”