Walter Jaskiewicz of Marco Island was elected by a unanimous vote of his peers to lead the largest US Coast Guard Auxiliary District in the United States. This event occurred on September 24th during the District 7 Conference held in Orlando Florida. The standing ovation and applause when his selection was announced attested to his support by the District members. The silver enhanced shoulder boards bearing the one star of his new position were placed on his shoulders by his wife, Barbra, and his grandson, Nicholas.
Commodore Jaskiewicz has been the District Chief of Staff of the District (the second in command) for the past two years. He has been singularly responsible for many innovative changes which have brought the District to the attention of not only the national Auxiliary headquarters but also the senior officers in the US Coast Guard. During this period, he was responsible for overseeing a staff of over 28 offices in the coordination and training for the more than 5,500 members of the District. The fact that District 7 encompasses the area from South Carolina through Georgia and Florida down to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico describes the broad ranging variances in such things as weather, local traditions, social differences and training needs. Commodore Jaskiewicz ability to adapt to every situation and overcome the sometimes wide differences of geographical style earned him an enviable reputation. His unique leadership style is shown by his ability to go from a command briefing with senior Coast Guard officials one day to inspecting someone’s boat at a marina the next day.
Commodore Jaskiewicz’s personal life experiences makes him a natural for this high profile position. He says that he did not graduate from any recognized college but rather the “College of Hard Knocks”. It must have been a great “college” because, with only $300.00 in his pocket, he created what became the third largest private security company in southern California. He sold the company in 1984 so he could concentrate on his other business—owner of a NASCAR racing team and antique car collector dealer. He and Barbra lived in Florida but moved to Oregon where they restored an 1880’s home and turned it into a bed and breakfast and casino museum. They both entertained their guests with their magic act. While in Oregon, Commodore Jaskiewicz served as Fire Chief (he was the Fire Chief when they lived in Islamorada Florida), interim Police Chief and was a two term City Councilman. In 1996 they finally settled in on Marco Island where they are both very active in the community.
His superior performance of duty since November 1999, when he joined the Auxiliary, has been continuously noted by his peers, subordinates and superiors alike. His outstanding service in leadership positions at every level as well as many staff positions has been recognized with his being presented with numerous awards and commendations such as the Auxiliary Commendation Award, Auxiliary Achievement Award, and the Auxiliary Commandant’s Letter of Commendation. Commodore Jaskiewicz is also a certified instructor for the Incident Command System, a nationwide military and civilian system for the management of local or national incidents. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an example of such an incident.
A large portion of the boating public has little knowledge of what the Coast Guard Auxiliary does. Since January 1, 2010, members of District 7 have saved 14 lives, assisted over 500 boaters in distress, volunteered over 18,000 hours in safety patrols and over 26,000 hours in direct support of the US Coast Guard. Additionally District 7, under Commodore Jaskiewicz’s tutelage, also provided 6,000 hours in classroom training for the boating public and conducted over 14,000 vessel safety checks.