With contributions from Ensign Jacob Boross.
Coast Guard Cutter Forward recently completed an international naval exercise to build partnerships between 15 nations. Who was the key to connecting those partner nations? Seaman Juan Garcia-Perez.
As a fluent Spanish speaker, Garcia-Perez was the lead communicator for maritime forces during Forward’s participation in UNITAS 2013.
“It was an honor to return to Colombia and participate in UNITAS as a United States citizen and representative of the United States Coast Guard,” said Garcia-Perez.
Relationship-building was one of the focal points of the exercise, however these relationships would cease to exist without the ability to communicate. Garcia-Perez accompanied Forward’s commanding officer as a translator at critical planning meetings hosted by members in the upper echelon of Colombian Navy’s command. His presence was critical to planning and preparedness for complex underway exercises. He also served as a guide and translated for visitors when Forward hosted partner nations.
One of the visitors Garcia-Perez worked with was a Colombian ship rider, naval officer Jhon Caceres-Gonzalez. Caceres-Gonzalez applauded Garcia-Perez for his care and hospitality and thanked him for all of his efforts as a host. Garcia-Perez also participated in numerous professional discussions with cadets from Colombia’s naval academy.
As a member of the ship’s deck department, Garcia-Perez distinguishes himself as a hard-working, motivated crewmember. In addition to his helm and lookout, auxiliary watch and boarding team member qualifications, he is now working to qualify as a gangway petty officer of the watch.
He works hard in his duties and hopes to one day become a health services technician. In order to prepare himself to succeed in that career path, he qualified as an emergency medical technician.
His unique skills and qualifications as a Spanish-speaking EMT came into play and were seen firsthand during the maritime exercise. Garcia-Perez acted as a boarding team member, EMT and interpreter during Forward’s response to a simulated personnel casualty aboard a Colombian vessel. He facilitated the joint response with the Chilean navy by stabilizing the patient and then assisted in transferring the individual to Forward to provide additional medical care.
“I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard to fulfill my strong desire to serve and write my own adventure” said Garcia-Perez.
Garcia-Perez represented himself and his service with pride and professionalism as he pushed through language barriers to enhance stability and security across borders and oceans. He is truly writing – and speaking – his own adventure.