MILITARY SPOTLIGHT: KEYS WEEKLY SALUTES COAST GUARD’S MATT JAMES

We at Keys Weekly want to honor the men and women serving in our local military installations. With help and advice from our community members in the armed forces, we’re proud to present our Military Spotlight.

MATT JAMES
COAST GUARD STATION ISLAMORADA COMMANDER/CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER-4/

Why did you join the military? I wanted to serve my country and earn money for college. I originally wanted to become a physician.

How many years have you been in the military? I enlisted in 1995, starting my 27th year soon.

Had you ever been to the Florida Keys before your current assignment? Only for port calls or operational stops while assigned to cutters homeported in the Northeast.

Did you choose the Keys or were you assigned here? I asked to leave my staff position early so I could complete one final operational tour before retirement. I was fortunate enough to screen for another command and was assigned to take command of Station Islamorada.

What were your first thoughts when hearing you were coming to the Keys? I wouldn’t need to wear a dry suit anymore. I’ve been stationed in cold water locations for much of my career. I was excited to thaw out a bit.

Hobbies? My family is pretty soccer-centric. We watch a lot of Premier League, MLS and other leagues. Both kids played or play, I coached, and we may become a family of referees in the near future. I am also resuming my graduate studies.

Favorite things to do? Cook and cycle. My wife and I try to visit local breweries and wineries whenever possible.

Have you ever attended Fantasy Fest and if so what were your initial thoughts? I inadvertently walked into the middle of Fantasy Fest in 1999 when my cutter pulled into Key West for storm avoidance. It was a fun surprise to turn the corner and walk into the middle of a giant party.

What do you like most about the Keys? I love the easy access to water and the boating culture.

What do you like most about your assignment? I am very fortunate to have another opportunity to lead Coasties and serve a great community. This will be it for me, so I’m trying to squeeze all the fun out of it that I can.

What would you change about living here if you had the power to do so? The housing market this year was a tough one for many of us. We were fortunate to land a great rental property, but it was a pretty big change in lifestyle for us. Hoping things cool down a bit in the near future so my junior crewmembers can find more reasonable housing or have shorter commutes.

Any advice for other military seeking assignment here? Come ready to roll. Most Coast Guard stations are busy, but the operations here are particularly dynamic. Pack the sunscreen, too.  

What do you like most about living here? This is a terrific community, I have really enjoyed meeting and working with everyone. 

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