From One Buc to Another

bucs saluting

Commander John Christensen ’99 (L) with Commander Matt Rooney ’01

Although it happens more frequently in the maritime world than one might think, it's still an occasion when MMA alumni come face to face as shipmates, especially when handing off responsibilities for running a ship, in this case United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) SENECA. The sixth of thirteen 270' Famous Class medium endurance cutters in the USCG fleet, when not berthed in Boston's North End, SENECA's primary missions range from protecting and enforcing laws for America's three billion dollar living marine resources economy to deploying in support of Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-South to intercept "narco-terrorists" in the Caribbean Sea and East Pacific Ocean.

They'd both taken commissions after graduation, yet in the two decades since their paths rarely crossed as their assignments took them both to sea and shore side. Despite that, the respect and admiration the two have for one another, forged on Taylor's Point, was apparent throughout the stripped down ceremony aboard the ship in Boston in late June. And, true to their Mass Maritime heritage, both were also more than eager to deflect credit for their successes towards those with whom they served and commanded.

Christensen accepts award “for meritorious service in the performance of duty along with superior leadership and professional expertise.”

CDR Christensen took command of SENECA in 2018, after having been assigned as the executive assistant to the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Task Force (East) in Portsmouth, Virginia.  Saying “There are few greater experiences in this world than going to sea, where grit and determination remain essential.” He showed his appreciation for his successful command by stating “the recognition belongs to the crew…for no matter the challenge, risk, day or night or weather conditions, they unified together and did their jobs to meet the mission, exhibiting exceptional professionalism and an eye towards safety so that we all came home.”

As the new guy aboard SENECA, Rooney looks forward to learning from those already serving, building on SENECA’s “tradition of honor and legacy of valor.” A permanent “Cutterman”, his personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, five Commendation Medals, Achievement Medal, and numerous unit and service awards. Well qualified to step into the role, Rooney knows what success looks and feels like, yet deferred to his fellow MMA alum’s reputation by saying, “John, ever since I first met you back at Mass Maritime you’ve been hitting it out of the park, and your work on SENECA has been no exception…well done and congratulations.”

Commander Matthew Rooney ‘01

In a world where traits that define character seem hard to come by, these two Buccaneers possess the resiliency, humility and empathy…honesty and decisiveness that have helped to create and develop their innate qualities. “Matt, we’re a long way from MMA,” Christensen said with a grin and a nod Rooney’s way. Given where they've been and what they've done, maybe they are...but then again…maybe not.