Douglas Pawlishen
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Ensign Douglas Pawlishen aboard the NOAA ship Pisces.
Douglas Pawlishen
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An advanced open water SCUBA diver, Pawlishen recently completed NOAA's Dive School and is now a NOAA Working Diver.

Ensign Douglas Pawlishen

Western Massachusetts Native Happy to be Back in New England

Doug Pawlishen could not be happier as he reported for NOAA Corps duty February 21, 2014 at the Woods Hole Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). In his first few weeks on the job he has been busy meeting staff and getting up to speed on the 72-foot NOAA research vessel Gloria Michelle, which recently returned to Woods Hole from a winter shipyard period in Fairhaven.

Pawlishen is the new Junior Officer in Charge (JOIC) on R/V Gloria Michelle. He is working with Captain and Officer in Charge LT Anna-Liza Villard-Howe as former-JOIC Shannon Hefferan moves on to a new assignment. Hefferan will soon join the Aircraft Operations Center of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, as a flight meteorologist, flying with NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Pawlishen grew up in South Hadley, where he graduated from high school. At an early age he became interested in the oceans while snorkeling on family vacations. An experienced snowmobiler who also enjoys fresh and saltwater fishing, hunting, hiking and boating, a career working outdoors was not unexpected. He attended the nearby University of Massachusetts, Amherst, earning a bachelor’s degree in natural resources with minors in criminal justice and wildlife conservation in May 2011.

While in high school and into college, he worked at his father’s auto repair shop and farm, operated snow removal equipment for a family friend, and became a call firefighter for the South Hadley District # 2 Fire Department. During summer breaks while in college he worked as a wildland firefighter for the National Park Service on the Cape Cod National Seashore. He also worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a wildland firefighter in the Black Hills National Forest in Custer, South Dakota. As a member of the Black Hills Helitack Crew, Pawlishen was part of an aerial firefighting team that used helicopters to fight fires in South Dakota and other western states including Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

“My original idea going into college was to get into environmental law enforcement, but after I learned about NOAA I got interested in the organization,” he recalls. “After I graduated from UMASS, I had an unfortunate knee injury that required a lengthy rehabilitation. In my down time I began researching career opportunities within NOAA and came across the NOAA Corps. Once I did my research on the NOAA Corps I knew it was the right service for me. The Corps’ core values - Honor, Respect and Commitment - aligned perfectly with my plan for the future and I knew this was my chance to serve my country. I applied, interviewed, and was accepted into Basic Officer Training Class 119, the last class to train at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY.” Basic officer training is now conducted with the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Pawlishen’s early interest in snorkeling led to certification as a NAUI Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver. He recently successfully completed NOAA’s Dive School, and is a NOAA Working Diver (NAUI Master Diver). NAUI is the National Association of Underwater Instructors.

He got his wish with his first NOAA Corps assignment: NOAA Ship Pisces, a 209-foot fisheries survey vessel homeported in Pascagoula, Mississippi. During that 20-month assignment, Pawlishen got to work in New England waters several times. Pisces is jointly used by the NEFSC and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC). While assigned to the Pisces, Pawlishen spent time in waters off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Maine working on several NEFSC projects, including the first Integrated Pelagic Survey on the Northeast U.S. Shelf in February 2013.

In June 2013 he was detailed to the NEFSC’s Narragansett Laboratory in Rhode Island, running their 22-foot Boston Whaler with the Apex Predators Program during a shark tagging project in Delaware Bay. During that detail he visited the Woods Hole Laboratory and the R/V Gloria Michelle. After that visit Pawlishen knew that he wanted to sail aboard R/V Gloria Michelle for his next NOAA Corps assignment.

After learning several months ago that his request was granted, Pawlishen prepared for the move back to New England. He now lives in Pocasset, and although he still has family in South Hadley, several siblings are much closer to Woods Hole. A brother and sister-in-law live in Mattapoisett, and a sister lives in Boston.

“It’s great to be working in and around Massachusetts. I truly enjoy running into other graduates from the UMASS system who are in the same line of work. Having the opportunity to get out and work on the water leaves me smiling every single day,” he says of his new assignment. “I have always had a can-do attitude. I like doing things that are a bit out of the ordinary, and enjoy hands-on work. If it’s exciting and challenging, count me in. I am learning a lot, and look forward to getting up to speed with Lt. Villard-Howe as we prepare for the upcoming season. This is right where I want to be.”

December 2014 Update:  Doug Pawlishen became the new Officer in Charge (OIC) of the R/V Gloria Michelle, succeeding Lt. Anna-Liza Villard-Howe at a Change of Command ceremony on December 17, 2014 in Woods Hole.

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(File Modified Jun. 17 2016)