Zach Hupp is a Petty Officer 3rd Class for the U.S. Coast Guard and serves as a Public Affairs Specialist.
“I work in the Public Affairs office of the First Coast Guard District with two other petty officers, and the three of us are the primary spokespeople for the Northeast region of the U.S., including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, most of New York and parts of northern New Jersey. My team is responsible for telling the Coast Guard story; some days that means taking photos or videos of our cutters and stations around the Northeast, some days we are doing live on-camera interviews about cases involving the Coast Guard, and some days we are flying on helicopters as part of a response to a national disaster. With each of those things, we are the ones that make sure the Coast Guard looks good.”
Zach is no stranger to military service; his grandfather retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970 after serving for over 20 years. “When I was in high school, I thought it would be cool to follow in his footsteps. But when I told him my plan, he sat me down and said, ‘I have seen what the Marines can do to a young boy, and I want more than that for you.’ To me, that meant I was going to college instead!”
So he landed at Emory & Henry, but his junior year he decided to join the Coast Guard. But there was a hitch: he was carrying a little too much weight to meet the Coast Guard’s physical qualifications.
So, he finished his Emory & Henry Mass Communications degree, and then worked for awhile as a financial analyst for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a team-member of CGI Federal. He loved the work and his team, but he never stopped thinking about the Coast Guard, so he got in shape– and lost about 75 pounds.
In the Coast Guard, he has served on an 87-foot patrol boat (Coast Guard Cutter HERON) in Virginia Beach, VA. He has done a lot of Search-and-Rescue and Law Enforcement work and eventually was sent to school at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, SC to train and qualify as a Coast Guard Boarding Team member. “That qualification was my first real step towards law enforcement. I was also taking every opportunity to become as knowledgeable as I could about the Coast Guard.”
He was eventually deployed to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), which is a forward-deployed unit consisting of six 110-foot patrol boats and a shoreside support unit based in Manama, Bahrain. Zach says he didn’t know what to expect there. “There is no real way to describe how hot it gets in the middle east, short of experiencing it first-hand. While there, I was stationed on Coast Guard Cutter MAUI with 21 other crew members. We patrolled the Arabian Gulf, often making stops in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, and Oman. Some of our missions there included escorting Army and/or Navy vessels through the gulf, interdicting migrants and drugs, collecting pattern-of-life data, and building community with the local fishing fleet.”
Zach liked law enforcement, but he found himself taking pictures and videos in his spare time until one day he left the Middle East and went to the Defense Information School located in Fort Meade, Maryland. He took a course to become a Public Affairs Specialist, and transferred to Boston, Massachusetts, and that’s where he is stationed now.
“Being in public affairs for the Coast Guard is important to me because it lets me use my skills to tell people all of the great things that the smallest branch of the armed forces does. I have been able to meet senators, congressmen, and many other prominent political figures just in the first six months of being in Boston. I have prepared senior officers for on-camera interviews on national television. I get to write the press releases, take the pictures, and go on camera for major events in our area. I spent two weeks as gathering information and imagery during and after Hurricane Florence, traveling between the storm-ravaged Conway, South Carolina and the flooded towns of eastern-North Carolina. All of that comes back to being able to be a story teller, to be a voice when otherwise there may not be. I love being able to use my skills in a way that makes a difference, and as cliché as it sounds, I get to highlight the great things that the men and women of the Coast Guard do every day.”
And it all started with a little Mass Communications 101 course at Emory & Henry.
“When I was at Emory, I started as a math major. It wasn’t until my 4th semester that I took MCOM-101 with Dr. Teresa Keller and found out that communications was pretty fun! I switched majors. Because the classes at Emory make you so well rounded, I attribute a lot of my success in press releases to the fact that Dr. Kasoma never gave me an easy grade in Writing, Reporting, and Editing. I attribute my love for making videos to Dr. Keller always driving me to do better. I am thankful every day for the education I was able to get at Emory & Henry; from the professors who always saw through my excuses and knew I could give more effort, to the lifelong friends I met along the way. I always tell people that an education from Emory is more than ‘paying for a degree,’ but rather it’s the experiences of a small school in a beautiful area that makes it so unique. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words: In the end, my degree is but a few lines of text culminating from a million memories.”
Beta Lambda Zeta
“I am thankful every day for the education I was able to get at Emory & Henry; from the professors who always saw through my excuses and knew I could give more effort, to the lifelong friends I met along the way.”
– Zach Hupp
E&H Class of 2012