ISS2 2018

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 51

Photographer snaps up awards while balancing work and life Among public affairs specialists, there's an expression: "if there's no pictures, it didn't happen." Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Masaschi's been serving in the Coast Guard Reserve for more than a decade, but he became a PA because of a technicality. Masaschi did Coast Guard law enforcement with the vessel boarding team at Sector Baltimore before his job, port security specialist, became part of the new maritime enforcement specialist rating. In the shakeup, Masaschi learned that his colorblindness precluded him from being an ME. (How can a PA be colorblind? "Fortunately I'm not painting the pictures," he joked, "so as long as the camera knows what the colors are supposed to be, it's all good.") However, he had a degree in journalism, so when it came time to lateral, he picked PA, and worked with his employer to take off three months for yet another A-school. And then fate struck again. "While I was in A-school, Deepwater Horizon blew up," said Masaschi. "It wasn't fun to come back home, and tell my boss I'd be gone for another two months, but while I was downrange, I immediately saw how cool the PA rate is." Masaschi's company, a distributor for industrial equipment, missed their sales rep, but understood how important his service was to him. Newly-married, he was sad to leave his wife, but as a great photographer with a degree from West Virginia University in news and editorial writing, Masaschi was a sought-after PA, and he snapped up deployments and opportunities left and right. His skills earned him two deployments on the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, two presidential inaugurations, other national special security events (NSSE) and celebrations in Baltimore harbor. His work led to a five-month ADOS contract at the Coast Guard Pacific Area public affairs office. While he missed his wife and new son Benjamin, the PACAREA job scored him one of his favorite deployments: a trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with Port Security Unit 305. There, he ran into other legacy port security specialists, and they traded memories from their common backgrounds. The photos he captured there were among those he submitted for the Alex Haley Awards last year. Weeks after his return, Masaschi and his wife learned they had another baby on the way, and he felt awful leaving her again when he was involuntarily recalled for the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. While Andrea stayed in Baltimore raising their one-year-old, Masaschi found himself flying across the island of Puerto Rico in a puddle jumper plane, documenting damage to vessels so responders could identify the areas most in need. Those photos, too, went into a massive submission package that was recognized by the judges at Coast Guard Headquarters, where Masaschi swept awards in four categories, outpacing his placement last year in two categories. He's already changed his style of shooting to make sure his submissions for the 2018 awards are even stronger. "You don't always shoot seven different photos for each occasion, but this year, every time I shoot an event, I'm shooting a variety of shots so I've got the basics covered for next year." Today, Masaschi and his family are on the west coast, as he's taken a one-year contract working full-time with the Coast Guard PACAREA PA office. He said it hurt to leave his company, Zenmar, who stood beside him so faithfully during his decade as a career reservist. (Why did a sales company hire a journalist? "They hired me because I was an Eagle Scout," said Masaschi with a laugh. "He saw that on my resume, and he didn't look at anything else.") He misses Zenmar, but said it's a nice break from the struggle to stay current with the both Coast Guard qualifications and keep up with a full-time civilian career. He's thrown himself into his active duty PA role. On his recent deployment with the Coast Guard Cutter Bertolf during their counterdrug patrol in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Masaschi snapped photos of two busts of more than a thousand kilos of cocaine, as well as a rare bust of liquid cocaine. As exciting as his work life is, the young dad was equally as excited when his daughter was born in May. Some days it's all about service to his country, and other days, Masaschi is happiest picking up Benjamin from daycare and listening to his son sing from the baby seat on the back of his bike. � — Story by RESERVIST Staff Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Masaschi stands in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertolf . Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Camgemi 32 RESERVIST � Issue 2 • 2018

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS2 2018