My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 17, 2021

Faces of Snyder: The Women who "Never Yield"

By Senior Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder navigates in the Labrador Sea Aug. 13, 2021. Snyder worked alongside Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Harry Dewolf, and HMCS Goose Bay in Operation Nanook to enhance collective abilities to respond to safety and security issues in the High North through air and maritime presence activities, maritime domain defense, and security exercises. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder)Strengthening partnerships and testing interoperability, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Escanaba and Richard Snyder participated in Operation Nanook in early to mid-August.

Operation Nanook is the Canadian Armed Forces' signature Arctic operation, comprising a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise the defense of Canada, security in the Arctic Region, incident management response, and search rescue capabilities in and around the Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait.

This is the first year the U.S. Coast Guard sent a 154-foot fast response cutter. Richard Snyder is homeported in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and named for Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Snyder, awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, defending troops coming to shore on the Island of Biak at the western edge of Papua New Guinea in World War II. The cutter's motto is Never Yield. The service continues to stretch the legs of these vessels and test their full capability, including operations in high latitude environments. While these ships are not ice-strengthened, the team observed mitigations, such as the deployment time of year, and carefully considering operating areas.

But what is it like to be part of the crew on this adventure? We invite you to meet some of the Richard Snyder team and hear their stories!

Petty Officer 2nd Class Constance Jennings:
My name is Constance Jennings, and I am the culinary specialist aboard. My hometown is not too far from my current duty station. Autryville, North Carolina, is a small town located outside of Fayetteville. I joined the U.S. Coast Guard over six years ago because I wanted to travel and help people. I have had the privilege to do both on Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder and the other units I have visited. While I enjoy the opportunity to travel around the United States and to go out to sea, the biggest drawback for me is missing time with my family. That said, I am having the time of my life seeing different parts of the world and the many beautiful sights of the open ocean. The views I’ve seen during this northern patrol in particular, such as icebergs, are something I will remember for a lifetime. Furthermore, the international relations we fostered during this patrol have given me unique insight into how other nations conduct operations.

Ensign Charlotte Braman:
Hi! I am Charlotte Braman from Chicago, and I am the weapons officer aboard Richard Snyder. My older brother’s experience in the military inspired me to consider a similar path. I knew I wanted to pursue a career focused on service to others, so I immediately gravitated toward the U.S. Coast Guard’s humanitarian mission. Although I have only been in the Coast Guard for a short time, each day, I am astonished by the incredible people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, and the lessons I’ve learned. I am grateful that my family has been so supportive in my journey, and I look forward to more adventures aboard Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder! I wanted to go to sea for my first tour in the service on an Fast Response Cutter because I was interested in being a part of a close-knit crew, developing my leadership skills, and helping others in a unique work setting. How many people get to observe pods of dolphins and orca whales while on the clock?! There are many notable experiences from Op Nanook, including working alongside crews on Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba and Canadian warships, exploring the fjords of Greenland, and launching our small boat to see icebergs up close!

Petty Officer 2nd Class Danielle Wilson:
Hello! I am Dani Wilson, and I'm from Oviedo, Florida. I'm a gunner's mate. The most significant motivation for joining the Coast Guard in my life was my uncle. He was a chief petty officer, a boatswain's mate, then went reservist and was chief of police in Ponce De Inlet, Florida. When he passed away unexpectedly, I joined to honor his legacy. I wanted to go to sea because very few people will experience this in their lifetime. To be able to serve our country and experience what so few will is a privilege. It is my passion to keep others safe while they are on the water. My expectations for Op Nanook were to see parts of the world I would never get to see otherwise. I was extremely excited to see this part of the world and strengthen international relations with our Canadian partners. To be a part of an operation that will help shape the way we train in the future with international partners is very exciting.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtney Swink:
Hi! My name is Courtney Swink; I am the deck boatswains mate aboard the Richard Snyder from West Palm Beach, Florida. I joined the Coast Guard because I wanted to see the world and not do an ordinary nine to five job – and I got my wish on the Richard Snyder. I chose to go to sea because there is nothing quite as unique as the way you can become disconnected while out on the water. After a few days, I feel so much closer to my surroundings and nature. The Op Nanook patrol was challenging, our longest mission away from home yet, but the relationships with other militaries created made it all worth it. These were items on a bucket list I didn’t even know I had, crossed off during our Arctic patrol that I will cherish forever.

Ensign Emma Compagnoni:
Hello, I am Emma Compagnoni, and I am the operations officer on the Snyder! I grew up in a Coast Guard family and fell in love with my experiences as a child. Traveling around the world became a passion of mine, and nothing is more rewarding than the ability to do so while saving lives. I was sold on joining the Coast Guard after participating in the AIM program as a junior in high school and have loved every minute since! The men and women of the Coast Guard are a family that shows up whenever you need them. Going to sea is unlike any other experience. It provides a sense of camaraderie between the crew, people composed of entirely different backgrounds who share something that has brought them to the same place at the same time. It can be thrilling, being recalled at 2 a.m., to perform a tow on a stranded sailboat 200 miles offshore. It can be beautiful seeing killer whales play off the coast of Canada in the clear blue ocean under a sunset. And it can be painful watching your coworkers miss their children’s first day of school due to a long patrol. But being at sea teaches you many things about the Coast Guard and yourself. It gives you space to learn, teaches patience, sound judgment, and appreciation for the little things. There is nothing like being on the ocean! Op Nanook provided our Fifth District-based fast response cutter crew the ability to look beyond our comfort zone and expand the capabilities of Fast Response Cutters internationally, all while strengthening partnerships within the organization and overseas. I explored a new country through a personal lens, bonded with my crew, and made memories that will last a lifetime.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Gayle Buchanan:
Hello, my name is Gayle Buchanan, and I am from Smithfield, Virginia. I'm an electronics technician. I knew I wanted to serve because most of my family is in the military, but I chose the Coast Guard because I love the water and knew I could always live near the water. Gearing up for this trip, I was excited to see icebergs up close, and it was really fun to get the closest to an iceberg that I probably ever will. I love being out on the water and going to see places I wouldn't ever go otherwise. Sometimes, it can be hard to miss things back home with my family, but this crew has become like family, and I wouldn't trade this experience with them for anything else.