Home Cinnaminson News ‘I’m locked on. I’m here to do my job’

‘I’m locked on. I’m here to do my job’

Ex-Cinnaminson resident Ryan Pottieger shares his experience representing the Coast Guard as a pallbearer for the funeral of President George H. W. Bush

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs special to The Sun: Former Cinnaminson resident and Ceremonial Honor Guard for the U.S. Coast Guard, Ryan Pottieger, second from the right, serves as a pallbearer at President George H. W. Bush’s funeral service.

Stephen Finn

The Sun

If you asked Ryan Pottieger where he saw himself in 10 years when he graduated from Cinnaminson High School in 2010, his answer probably would not have included joining the Coast Guard and brushing shoulders with current and former U.S. presidents while he appeared on national television news networks.

Regardless of that, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, the former resident of Cinnaminson represented the U.S. Coast Guard as a pallbearer at President George H.W. Bush’s funeral.

Although Pottieger comes from a military family, both his father and grandfather served, the Coast Guard didn’t factor into his original vision for his life after high school.

“I had never thought about joining the military before,” said Pottieger

He attended Stockton University and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Fresh out of school, he initially pursued jobs within his field of study.

“I worked as an environmental consultant for about two years and it wasn’t really for me, I wanted to do something a little different,” said Pottieger.

His father had previously served in the Coast Guard, and for the first time Pottieger began to explore the possibility of a similar path. He decided to take the shot and joined in 2017.

“I wanted to stay in my field, environmental science, and I saw that opportunity in the Coast Guard. My main goal was to get into Officer Candidate School so I could do environmental protection work,” said Pottieger.

Upon completing boot camp, however, Pottieger was selected to join the Honor Guard in Alexandria, Va., another unexpected opportunity he ended up pursuing.

“Coming to the Honor Guard, I’ve gotten to do so many unbelievable things that I never thought I’d be able to do,” said Pottieger.

Within the Honor Guard there are a number of roles one can be placed in, like the silent drill team, colors team, firing party and the casket team. Pottieger was recruited for the casket team and ended up serving as a pallbearer at Sen. John McCain’s funeral on Sept. 1.

“When the call came that President Bush had passed away, I was one of the guys at the top of the list that they wanted to put out there to be the face of the Coast Guard,” said Pottieger.

Leading up to the funeral there was plenty of time allotted to rehearse for the ceremony. Everything had to be pulled off with military precision.

“I would say we had five or six days of full, 12 hours a day, waking up and doing rehearsals,” said Pottieger. “Lots of long days.”

On the day of the funeral, he had to arrive early to get through the tight security that was in place for the event. As he stood in front of the Washington National Cathedral, Pottieger locked into his training, focusing on the hours of rehearsal they had completed in the days beforehand.

Pottieger had to ignore all that was going on in his peripheral vision, all of the famous and powerful people in attendance at the funeral, all of the cameras that were trained on him and focus on the job he was trusted with.

“You’re so focused on what you’re doing you don’t even realize what is going on, how visible you are to everybody,” said Pottieger. “I’m locked on, I’m here to do my job, I’m here to be the face of the Coast Guard and bring pride to the Coast Guard.”

After he had completed his responsibilities, he was met with a flood of messages from family members and friends. He got on the phone with his father to tell him what it was like walking just inches away from President Trump. According to Pottieger his family couldn’t have been more proud.

“It was an awesome experience. It’s kind of cool to think that one day you might actually end up in a picture in a history book,” said Pottieger.

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