Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Atkins.
Lt. Col. Don Goff retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with more than 27 years of combined service in the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy; you’d think he’d want to take a break. But taking a break was not in the future for Don Goff.
Wanting to continue his service in a different and unique capacity, Goff joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary – the all-volunteer group of men and women who augment Coast Guard forces. Within the Auxiliary, Goff has been a flotilla commander, vice division commander, telecommunications operator, Auxiliary operations specialist and an Auxiliary coxswain; a tremendous feat.
Goff has been supporting Station Washington and the surrounding area for more than five years in a variety of roles and responsibilities. Crewmembers at Station Washington, like all boat stations across the country, stand watch, rain or shine, hot or cold, 365 days a year. They remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice, and Goff helps them maintain that readiness with his expertise, particularly in communications.
As an expert in communications technology and procedures, Goff spearheaded an effort to facilitate a communications watchstander school for fellow auxiliary members, covering the entire certification in a weekend of practical and knowledge-based training at Station Washington.
As a result of his vision and hard work, the local division was able to provide an average of 40 hours a week of volunteer coverage, freeing up Station Washington’s active duty members to perform maintenance, complete training and conduct critical operations.
But Goff doesn’t just train his fellow auxiliary members. Goff makes it a point to mentor newly-reported active duty members in working towards their communications or boat crewman qualifications.
What has really set Goff apart from his peers is his drive and desire to obtain advanced certifications. Working in the FEMA incident command structure, Goff is a certified communications unit leader and assisted with national special security events, such as the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
Furthermore, Goff devoted an extended amount of personal time and commitment to his certification as a boat crewman on the 25-foot response boat at the station. While Goff comes in at “somewhere north of 60,” he is still required to pass the same physical fitness test as everyone else at the station, and he routinely finishes within the standards for those in their 30s. More than the Auxiliary qualification, Goff completed the same qualification standards utilized by active duty members, and is certified to serve as a crewman alongside his active duty counterparts on search and rescue missions.
His duties keep him busy at the station and Goff is even known to get a one night “hall pass” from his wife on Friday nights to augment the active duty watch section.
For his expertise and dedication, Goff was awarded the advanced boat forces operations insignia. The gold-and-pewter-toned pin represents a heightened level of qualification, knowledge and experience, including both practical and operational components.
Goff may call this his “retirement” but we call it dedication to duty. Goff is another in a long line of true shipmates. His infectious smile, positive attitude and willingness to help out without asking anything in return epitomizes the service’s core values. The fact he does this all on a strictly volunteer basis only serves to underscore his commitment to Station Washington and the U.S. Coast Guard.