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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 18, 2024

The wave maker

By U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

Beneath the vast expanse of Guam's azure skies, where the endless ocean meets vibrant coral sands, Petty Officer 2nd Class William Naden is making significant strides in marine conservation. 

A native of Malesso and a dedicated boatswain's mate at U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor, Naden has emerged as a pivotal figure in community leadership and environmental stewardship.

From his humble beginnings along the picturesque shores of southern Guam, Petty Officer Naden's life has been deeply intertwined with the rhythms of the sea. This profound connection to Guam's waters has not only shaped his career path but also ignited a lifelong commitment to environmental protection, a commitment he pursued in college at the University of Guam. As an enthusiastic waterman, his passion for the ocean is a testament to his efforts to preserve its beauty and vitality.

In 2017, driven by a desire to improve the health of his local marine environment, Naden spearheaded the Merizo Pier Cleanup. What began as a small-scale endeavor to clear debris from a specific area of the pier has evolved into a comprehensive initiative covering the wider marine and coastal areas. Year after year, Naden leads a dedicated team of volunteers—divers, snorkelers, and land-based supporters—to remove harmful debris from these waters. Together, they have successfully eliminated over 7,000 pounds of trash, including abandoned fishing gear, car parts, and even sunken boats. This is a powerful testament to the impact of collective action in environmental conservation, inspiring us all to contribute to the cause.

Reflecting on his roles as a Coast Guard member and an environmental advocate, Naden said, "Serving as a boatswain's mate allows me to protect our waters through my profession, but cleaning our shores and educating others about conservation is how I serve my community. It's about preserving our natural heritage and the scenic beauty that defines Guam for current and future generations."

The Micronesian Conservation Coalition (MCC) recently recognized Petty Officer Naden's relentless commitment with the prestigious Tide Changer Award at the 3rd Annual Ocean Gala, held on May 11, 2024. This recognition is a testament to the community's appreciation for his efforts toward sustainable marine practices.

"Petty Officer Naden exemplifies the spirit of the U.S. Coast Guard through his outstanding skills as a coxswain and his deep commitment to the marine environment. His leadership in training our crew in advanced boat handling and integrating his extensive local knowledge boosts our operational efficiency and strengthens our ties with the community we are privileged to serve," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. 

The Ocean Gala is a vital platform for acknowledging individuals like Naden, whose endeavors significantly impact the community. This year's gala focused on regional projects like the Yap and Guam Manta projects, emphasizing MCC's broad commitment to marine conservation.

Petty Officer 2nd Class William Naden is a testament to the power of local initiative and global responsibility. Proudly representing the U.S. Coast Guard and his community's environmental goals, Naden continues to inspire us all to participate in preserving the most critical resource of our planet — the ocean. His story is not merely about personal achievement but a collective call to action, reminding us of the role each of us plays in maintaining the health and beauty of our Blue Continent for generations to come.