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    Lone Coastie deployed to CLDJ

    Lone Coastie deployed to CLDJ

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo | CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Patrick J. Dillon , deputy...... read more read more

    Camp Lemonnier is a joint-service base on the east side of Africa in the small country of Djibouti. The 600-acre installation is home to U.S. troops from all services. There are about 900 Soldiers, 500 Sailors, 20 Marines, 500 Airmen and exactly one Coast Guardsman; that’s right, one.

    U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Patrick J. Dillon, deputy commander, Combined Task Group (CTG) 68.6, has been the lone representative of his service since his squadron’s arrival in June 2018. Dillon is the second in command of the 75-person, Coastal Riverine Squadron 8, the unit currently assigned to CTG 68.6, and is based out of Newport, R.I.

    The mission of CTG 68.6 is to allow for the safe passage of high value assets and combat cargo along key maritime resupply routes in the waters around the Horn of Africa.

    A resident of Falmouth, Mass., Dillon joined the Coast Guard after serving six years in the Marine Corps. He deployed three times as a Marine including his final tour with 1st Battalion 1st Marines, Task Force Papa Bear, during Desert Storm/Shield in 1991.

    Dillon said he couldn’t recall having been in other situations where he was the only person representing his service. He said being the only representative of the U.S. Coast Guard has been the high point of his military career.

    “In weekly military to military engagements with the Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard and in our relationships with U.S. Embassy personnel, it’s been a privilege to not only represent my current Navy command, but being the only U.S. Coast Guard person adds to the responsibility and importance of my role,” Dillon said.

    Dillon said he’s always had an appreciation for the work ethic of Navy personnel, having served twice with Navy units. During active duty in the Marine Corps, he deployed aboard the Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA-5), which represented his first opportunity to work directly with the Navy. His second opportunity came as a Coast Guard officer deployed to Kuwait in a joint setting that integrated Coast Guard Port Security Unit 301 and the Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 5.

    “The Kuwait joint deployment experience provided me with a core understanding of our current mission, how the U.S. Navy operates and what’s expected of me in my role,” Dillon said. “In comparing the two services, I believe we have far more in common than not.”

    Dillon hasn’t found any major challenges with being the only Coast Guard member at Camp Lemonnier, aside from some minor administrative challenges associated with the different systems used to monitor a member’s readiness and annual requirements. He said it’s been amusing interacting with people around base, often in the middle of a conversation they would pause and say something like, “wow, you’re in the Coast Guard, what are you doing here?”

    Just to add to the confusion, Dillon wears the Navy working uniform while at CLDJ – a U.S. Coast Guard name tape over his left pocket is the only difference.

    There has always been a healthy competition among the services. Jokes about other branches are as old as the services themselves. Dillon said the men and women in his unit keep that tradition alive and well.

    “We’ve certainly had our fair share of good-natured ribbing, especially when discussing the amazing success of the Boston Red Sox or New England sports teams in general,” Dillon said. “More closely to the mission, when something doesn’t go quite right, they remind me that it must be a Coast Guard issue.”

    Dillon said out of his five deployments, this is by far the best team he’s served with. He said there is a core of very talented and experienced officers and the Chief’s Mess is the finest senior enlisted group he’s ever had the privilege of working with.

    CRS-8 Senior Enlisted Advisor, Electronic Technician Master Chief Robert Fraulino, said Dillon’s extensive Coast Guard port security experience is very closely aligned with the Navy’s coastal riverine squadron’s mission.

    “His background with [Coast Guard] port security units made him an invaluable asset to the unit,” Fraulino said. “He performed exceptionally as our deputy commander executing the mission here.”

    Navy Cdr. Eric McDermott, CTG 68.6 officer in charge, said Dillon brought a wealth of knowledge to the unit from his experience and previous deployments. He said as Deputy Commander of Task Group 68.6 and Executive Officer of CRS-8 Forward, Dillon has probably the hardest command function that the military has to offer.

    “This is a role where you have to be everything to everyone; from mentor to advisor, from an administrator or program manager to the boss,” McDermott said. “Ultimately, he is charged with keeping the command on task and firing on all cylinders. In my opinion, no one does it better.”

    Costal Riverine Squadron 11 will be replacing CRS-8 and will be tripling the Coast Guard presence, having arrived in December with two officers and a very experienced chief petty officer.

    Dillon is proud of the team for the approach CRS-8 took in completing mission objectives. He said at each and every opportunity, the crew modeled professionalism, strived for excellence and worked as a team.

    “I am most fortunate to have served with this team and very proud to have represented the Coast Guard in the execution of such an important mission,” said Dillon.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.29.2018
    Date Posted: 12.29.2018 08:38
    Story ID: 305737
    Location: DJ

    Web Views: 761
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