U.S. Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz visited the Legislature yesterday with his military aide, Lt. Commander Christine Torres Igisomar, who is the highest-ranking Chamorro woman in the U.S. Coast Guard’s history.
At a joint legislative meeting held in the House of Representatives chamber, House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez and Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider presented Schultz with a House joint resolution that honors and commends the U.S. Coast Guardsmen that have served the CNMI under Schultz’s leadership.
Villagomez and Hofschneider also presented gifts to Schultz, Igisomar, and other USCS officials.
Schultz, who took over as the 26th commandant of the USCG on June 1, 2018, also gave commemorative gifts to Villagomez and Hofschneider.
In his speech, Schultz offered condolences on the CNMI’s recent loss of Rep. Ivan A. Blanco and assured that when disaster strikes, the USCG will be here to help. For example, after Super Typhoon Yutu hit the CNMI in October 2018, the USCG’s C-130 aircraft were the first ones to arrive in the region, he said, and the Coast Guard cleared the main ship channel so that large ships could enter with much-needed relief supplies.
He said Coast Guard members also supported the “Temporary Emergency Tent and Roof Installation” team, identifying homes that needed new roofs and ensuring they had temporary tarps in place.
He said they will continue to conduct patrols within the Exclusive Economic Zone, as well as check on those who inhabit the remote Northern Islands.
Hofschneider said the CNMI is grateful to the USCG for many years of protection and security the borders, protecting the coastal environment, and ensuring the Commonwealth’s overall safety.
“We stand ready to do our part in protecting the liberties and freedoms of this great country and our Commonwealth,” the Senate president said.
Villagomez said it’s an honor to present a small token of their appreciation for Schultz’s service to the CNMI. “With his leadership, we have CNMI residents, sons and daughters of our own…serving under his leadership,” Villagomez said.
Schultz said he is in the region with the USCG’s 14th District Commander, Rear Adm. Matt Sibley, to visit Coast Guard units, talk to personnel, and learn about the environments in which they work, and meet those partners with whom they engage.
“Earlier today we toured Saipan. What a beautiful island,” he said.
Upon their arrival on the island Tuesday night, Igisomar’s mother hosted a dinner travel party, as well as the families of five recent high school graduates who are in preparatory training to attend the USCG Academy in the U.S. mainland.
Schultz said currently they have 17 active duty Coast Guard members from the CNMI and that nearly 20% of them hail from the Hofschneider family. He said Lt. Freddy Hofschneider is currently the commanding officer of Coast Guard cutter Maui, a 110-foot patrol boat, supporting 5th Fleet Operations near Manama, Bahrain.
“That’s a big responsibility,” he said.
Schultz said the Federal Asian Pacific American Council recently awarded an islander, Chief Petty Officer Richard Hofschneider, with the 2021 Uniformed Services Award.
“That’s a big deal as it’s a federal award, not a service award,” he said.
Schultz is amazed at this region’s support to USCG, demonstrated by the “bright and talented young Chamorros and Carolinians” joining the service.
He said it would appear that his aide, Igisomar, is related to most of them.
“The Coast Guard is truly a family business and strengthening those family ties with CNMI will surely prove mutually beneficial,” he said.
Today, Thursday, Schultz will be in Guam to commission three new fast response cutters, Myrtle Hazard, Oliver Henry, and the Frederick Hatch. He said these assets will help amplify their desire and commitment to advance maritime security, marine safety, and environmental stewardship through collaboration.