Salute to Veterans with Tim Fitzgerald, U.S. Coast Guard

  • Tim Fitzgerald, U.S.  Coast Guard

“We value our freedom, devotion to duty, integrity, honor and commitment. That’s what it’s all about.”
 

Tim Fitzgerald sat back in his chair and thought for a moment about his fellow shipmates who came from vastly different backgrounds, belief systems and social customs.

“The most impactful thing I learned in the military was how to overcome diversity. We had a mission and we were there to save lives; Nothing else mattered,” Fitzgerald recalled of his time spent in the U.S. Coast Guard, as an electrician’s mate and a member of the Law Enforcement program.

Fitzgerald was involved in many different assignments within the U.S. Coast Guard, including search-and-rescue initiatives, anti-piracy objectives and natural resource protection advancements. But his favorite directive by far? That would be counter-narcotics missions.

In 1999, he was part of a team that found 10.5 tons of illegal narcotics during a single mission off the coast of Mexico. It was the biggest takedown that he was part of during his military career. Looking back, he thought that the mission may have created a butterfly effect.

“If the drugs didn’t arrive to their original destination, then they wouldn’t get cut. If they weren’t cut, then they wouldn’t be distributed. If they weren’t distributed, then they wouldn’t get put into the hands of a user,” Fitzgerald mused.

Large drug busts like these were a huge motivating factor for Fitzgerald. Although this type of work was dangerous, he felt that he was doing good for someone he did not know. It solidified that he had taken the right career path, which made the long deployments worth it.

Fitzgerald credits the military with developing a multitude of skillsets that he uses to this day, including an interest and expertise in electrical safety. Today, he serves the lab as the Electrical Safety program manager. However, out of the many abilities he picked up during his military career, he says that the leadership skills taught in the military are invaluable.

“How do you make soldiers into a team, align them and make them focus on the same mission? You have to have excellent leadership skills. The military has a great model for developing great leaders,” he said.

Fitzgerald also credits the military with the unbreakable bonds he developed with his shipmates, some of which he still remains close with to this day.

“The camaraderie is the most amazing aspect of the military. My fellow service members are truly a family that will stand by each other through anything. We value our freedom, devotion to duty, integrity, honor and commitment. That’s what it’s all about.”

Thank you for your service, Tim!

By Rebecca Anderson

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Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, a joint venture of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. and PAE Applied Technologies, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.