Braswell honored with award

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, July 30, 2015

By Henry Luzzatto


A Smithfield man has been named an honorable mention for National Auxiliarist of the Year in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Braswell (Submitted Photo)

Braswell (Submitted Photo)

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R. Anderson Braswell, of Smithfield Flotilla 5-9, was one of three Coast Guard auxiliarists to be named on July 17, alongside Karen Chapman, of Flagstaff, Ariz., and the winner, Jacob Thayer of Austin, Texas.

Braswell serves as the 2015 District 5 Southern Region’s Staff Officer for Communication Services, as well as being an active member of the flotilla and being qualified as a coxswain, instructor and vessel examiner.

Braswell joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary five years ago when he was working for an accounting firm in Easton, Md. Though the work was good, Braswell said, he was looking to get involved in an important service.

“I was just bored,” Braswell said. “I ended up joining something that gives me fulfillment.”

After signing up, prospective auxiliarists are assigned mentors, who, according to Braswell, take the new recruits through a one-on-one boot camp, teaching the ins and outs of work in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“It’s kind of similar to the Boy Scouts, but for adults,” Braswell said.

After being mentored, one must pass an exam in order to become an auxiliarist.

In the five years since, Braswell has been greatly involved in the program, clocking more than 500 hours for official work on the water.

Aside from serving the community on the water, Braswell is involved with numerous other programs with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

When he moved to the flotilla in Smithfield, Braswell realized that the unit’s website was archaic and difficult to use. Braswell was able to design the new website, which has drawn numerous plaudits.

“It’s an example of how to do it right for other flotillas,” Stephen Faleski, the Flotilla Staff Officer of Communication Services said. “He’s gotten praise from around the country and even internationally.”

Braswell’s work with the website and the flotilla’s social media presence has made it more accessible for the average person, Faleski said.

On top of his technological work, Braswell also helped bring back the Virginia boater safety course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

According to Faleski, Braswell partnered with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to re-establish the Coast Guard’s classes for the course, which is offered for free, and is required by the state.

Braswell says that his greatest accomplishment this year has been winning the District Search and Rescue competition for the Mid-Atlantic, beating out competition from much larger cities.

Breswell led the unit as the coxswain and participated in numerous challenges involving first aid administration, plotting and charting and even searching for hidden items.

“You learn a lot,” Braswell said. “And it brings us credibility.”

Braswell said the Coast Guard Auxiliary is underappreciated by the general public, but it serves a very important role.

Braswell works for the Department of Defense and lives in Smithfield with his wife and two

daughters. He hopes to continue serving the auxiliary as long as possible.

“To see that you’re making a difference makes it all worthwhile,” Braswell said.