GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Coast Guard Station Gulfport has established an auxiliary program at USM Gulf Park, and it's one of just 13 university auxiliary programs in the country.
The station is using this new auxiliary as an education and recruiting tool and hosted an open house on Thursday to help promote it.
What better way to promote the Coast Guard than taking a boat ride on a $2 million, 45 foot response boat. Coast Guard members say sharing such an adventure is a great way to introduce students to the new auxiliary.
"The purpose of the program is to get college students involved in the Coast Guard and everything that has to do with it," said Jacob, who is the AUP unit officer.
Since so much time is spent on the water, either training or with search and rescue missions, Jacob says it's important to get the potential recruits acclimated to Coast Guard life.
"One of my goals is to get them crewman certified on this platform so they can go out there with us and perform these tasks and these missions. And so they can really see what we have to offer," Jacob explained.
"Going about 30 knots right now, that's this boat's cruising speed," said Daniel Thompson, as he maneuvered the joy sticks that controlled the powerful boat engines.
Thompson has been active duty Coast Guard for four and a half years and says the university auxiliary program is promising.
"It's a wonderful idea. It's a great opportunity for people to come out here and learn about what we do and decide if they want to join us too," he said.
Logan Dunn grew up in the mountains of Tennessee and was enrolled in college, pre-med, when he considered an alternative; one that could satisfy his love for the water.
"I saw the Coast Guard, really liked the way they saved lives and I figured it would help pay for my college. So, for me it was a win-win," said Dunn.
Students at USM Gulf Park who may be interested in the university auxiliary program should contact Coast Guard Station Gulfport.