Hub unit bound for Guantanamo

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / May 3, 2011

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A Coast Guard Reserve maritime antiterror unit from Boston deployed to Cuba yesterday in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“As a unit, we hope to continue the tradition of excellence that the Coast Guard has established with other federal services and agencies throughout its tenure working under the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility,’’ said Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas Wieland, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Boston.

The unit departed Hanscom Air Force Base to provide land and maritime security to the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay. Before leaving, members of the elite unit completed two months of training, including boat and weapons qualifications, team coordination, and CPR certification.

“We worked rigorously to improve our proficiency with the rules and regulations that govern the area and our mission down there,’’ Wieland said.

The unit is hand-picked from among reservists across the country, and includes a diverse range of professions, from retail workers to public safety officers.

“My dad was called up for service for Vietnam with the New Hampshire National Guard as was [my] grandfather in the Army Air Force for World War II before him,’’ said Petty Officer First Class Jeremy Wyskiel, a New England native and Chittenden County, Vt., police officer. “I have been waiting for the call to do my part for five years in the Coast Guard Reserves and now finally have my chance to deploy with a great unit.’’

The unit was created under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, charged with protecting seaports and waterways. Eleven such units operate around the country.

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at