National Hispanic Heritage Month: The Mesens

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, five members of Coast Guard 17th District will be featured on our blog.

Petty Officer 1st Class Roy Mesen and Petty Officer 1st Class Cristina Mesen pose on Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2015. The Mesens have been married since 2000 and are both active duty Coast Guardsmen. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Steenson.

Petty Officer 1st Class Roy Mesen and Petty Officer 1st Class Cristina Mesen pose on Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, Oct. 1, 2015. The Mesens have been married since 2000 and are both active duty Coast Guardsmen. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Steenson.

This week’s Hispanic Heritage Month is featuring an active duty married couple! Petty Officer 1st Class Cristina Mesen is a storekeeper at Base Kodiak, and Petty Officer 1st Class Roy Mesen is a health services technician at Base Kodiak’s Rockmore King Clinic.

How did you two meet?

Cristina: Roy is from Costa Rica and his dad had to move to Ecuador because of his job. We met in college through common friends. When Roy’s dad was done with his tour in Ecuador, Roy decided that it was time to find his way and moved to Puerto Rico where he joined the Coast Guard. After boot camp he came back to Ecuador and proposed. We got married in Key West, Florida, Dec. 6, 2000!

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Cristina: I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. I came to the U.S. because my husband (then fiancé) joined the Coast Guard and we decided to get married back in 2000.

I joined the Coast Guard in 2005 and have been stationed in Sector New York, Sector San Diego, and currently at Base Kodiak. I take great pride on my career and have been able to advance in every duty station I have been assigned to. I will be a chief petty officer with 10 years of service.

The majority of my family is in Ecuador, but my parents live in Los Angeles, California. I have been in various places throughout our Coast Guard careers, and I can say that home is where my family is.

Roy: I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, and moved to the U.S. when I was nine because my stepfather is Puerto Rican. After high school I almost joined the U.S. Navy but I turned it down since they wanted me to be a submariner. I joined the Coast Guard from San Juan after watching the movie “The Perfect Storm” and watching a 110-foot cutter go by the pier in San Juan.

I have gone to three major “C” Schools and multiple small specialty schools including pharmacy technician, preventative medicine technician and dive school with dive medicine for medical personnel, giving me the designation of “Dive Medical Technician.”

Why did you choose to serve in the Coast Guard?

Roy: It has the most peace time missions out all of the services. I joined prior to 9/11 and I wanted to be truly operational.

Cristina: I came to this country because it provides better opportunities, and as a young married couple it was our best option. This country has given me financial stability, education, and a career.

“I joined the Coast Guard because that is my way of thanking this country for all I have.” -Cristina

3. What does it mean to you to serve in the Coast Guard?

Cristina: For me, being part of the Coast Guard is not only job security and financial stability; it is the satisfaction of being part of a great organization that – with less budget and people than other military services – accomplishes various missions to protect this nation.

Roy: After 9/11, I gained a country and a service. I always felt like a citizen of the world and the Coast Guard was just a way to have fun. 9/11 changed all of that and it helped me decide my career path, and I took ownership of my Coast Guard. The Coast Guard means a lot to me; not only has it given me a way to give back to my country, the U.S., but it also gives me a way to tend to the needs of its most important asset, its people, by letting me be a health services technician.

“By providing health services to Coast Guard men and women, the Coast Guard allows me to provide for my family a comfortable and safe environment.” -Roy

4. What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your career?

Cristina: You have to take every opportunity you have to achieve your goals no matter what obstacles are in the way. Learn from your mentors and don’t let bad experiences determine your career.

Roy: If it wasn’t for its people, the Coast Guard could not do what we do. It is a service driven by its people and the skills individuals bring to the table for the team.

5. How has being a part of a sea-going service impacted your life?

Roy: Unfortunately, I have not been underway. My career path has given me 11 years of being operational, but attached to land units. I am still hopeful to get underway before I retire. With that said, I have been away from my family numerous times due to various deployments with the Marine Safety and Security Team and the Dive Locker.

I could not have able to do it without my active duty Coast Guard wife being as strong and committed as she is. -Roy

She has not only been there for our children and me, but she has also has found great success in the Coast Guard as she is currently above the cut for E-7. I am very proud of her.

Cristina: Being married member to member becomes challenging when you have kids. Being part of a sea-going service means that in any given moment we both can get called to serve at sea and we have to have a family plan ready for our daughters. At the same time, we have been fortunate enough to be able to live in places that most people dream of going.

6. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the positive influences and traditions that Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation with.  What does it mean to you to celebrate this month in the Coast Guard?

Cristina: It is an opportunity for the Hispanic community to teach about our different cultures and to recognize the value that the Hispanic Americans bring to our service.

“Diversity in the workplace is important” –Cristina

Roy: For me Hispanic Heritage Month means a way to show the Latin culture contributions to the American culture like food, language, music and hard work ethic- just to name a few.

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