Meet the woman training the future Coast Guard

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Lt. Sonny Gomez is an instructor at the Marine Inspection & Investigation School at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown. (Department of Defense)
Lt. Sonny Gomez is an instructor at the Marine Inspection & Investigation School at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown. (Department of Defense)

Traveling the world and discovering new people and cultures has always been in Lt. Sonny Gomez’s blood. So it only seemed a natural fit for her to join the United States Coast Guard.

Gomez, who is stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown, grew up in a military family. Her father was in the Air Force, and Gomez was born overseas in South Korea. She also spent part of high school in Italy.

“I’ve traveled quite a bit,” Gomez said. “I’ve been to all seven continents.” 

For the past nine years, she’s been able to see the globe while serving in the Coast Guard.

“I joined the Coast Guard because I wanted to serve the country one way or another,” she said. “My mission is to promote water safety and keep our waterways safe.”

Currently, Gomez is an instructor at the Marine Inspection & Investigation School at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown. She and her husband, Lt. Ryan Gomez, are also expecting their first child in July. 

Gomez teaches 600 students annually how to inspect domestic and foreign vessels as well as how to properly conduct a marine casualty investigation.

“I enjoy being able to share the knowledge I have and provide everyone with the skillset to be out on the field,” she said. “Being a mentor is rewarding.”

Those who work with her agree.

“Lt. Gomez is a natural instructor and technical expert who is dedicated to developing the future of the U.S. Coast Guard workforce,” said LCDR Christian J. Barger, Senior Instructor and Assistant School Chief for the Marine Inspection & Investigation School. “She is willing to do what it takes to ensure that all vessels, maritime professionals and the general public, and the marine environment are safe and secure.”

Gomez’s first assignment after graduating from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and joining the military was executing drug interdiction missions on the USCGC Chase, out of San Diego, Calif.

While stationed in Houma, La., Gomez learned the ins and outs of various boats as well all boating regulations while serving as a Prevention Officer. She spent time inspecting barges, ferries, passenger vessels, offshore supply vessels and other ships in the Gulf of Mexico and investigated accidents along the coast.

Before arriving at Yorktown last year, Gomez spent three years in Portland, Ore., leading investigations on maritime casualty cases and assisting with the prosecutions of violators of state, federal, and international maritime law.

Being a part of the Coast Guard has been a pleasure for Gomez.

“I love the opportunity to travel, and have enjoyed all the various jobs I’ve been able to do while in the Coast Guard,” she said. “I just love going to different places, meeting new people, and expanding my horizons. It’s really helped me grow personally and professionally.”

She and her husband, whom she met in college, took a cross-country road trip from Portland to Yorktown, exploring the country along the way.

“We really enjoyed that experience,” Gomez said. “We even had a little traveling gnome that we brought with us.”

The couple have also really taken to Yorktown and the surrounding towns.

“We love the history of this area,” Gomez said. “It’s been a lot of fun for us to indulge in the local community whenever we can. We love whatever city we live in, and everything it has to offer.”

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