Captain Joseph R. Buzzella, Jr.
District Chief of Staff
U.S. Coast Guard District Eleven
Captain Joe Buzzella assumed the duties as the Chief of Staff for the Eleventh Coast Guard District in July 2019. As Chief of Staff, Captain Buzzella is the principle advisor to the District Commander on all Coast Guard missions conducted in the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah and the coastal and offshore waters to include the offshore waters of Mexico and Central America covering over 3.3 million square nautical miles.
Captain Buzzella previously served as the Sector Commander and Captain of the Port of San Diego, California. In this role, he was the senior Coast Guard Officer in the Southwest region of the United States responsible for leading operations to ensure maritime safety, security, and environmental protection covering areas from the US-Mexico Maritime Border northward to Dana Point, CA, and inland to include Lakes Havasu, Meade, Mohave, Powell, and the Colorado River.
Captain Buzzella hails from Miami, Florida. After completing Coast Guard Enlisted Basic Training at Cape May, New Jersey in 1986, he was assigned to Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Florida. He is a 1988 graduate of the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) and a 1992 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and an officer commission. Following graduation from the Coast Guard Academy, Captain Buzzella served as a Deck Watch Officer aboard the USCGC Spencer and USCGC Vindicator. Upon completion of U.S. Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a Coast Guard Aviator in 1996. He then reported to Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Florida where he flew the HH-65A Dauphin Helicopter and later the HU-25A Falcon Jet where he maintained a dual airframe qualification conducting search and rescue, alien migrant interdictions, and counter drug missions. In 2000, he was assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts where he flew HU-25A Falcon Jets conducting search and rescue and New England fisheries enforcement missions. In 2005, he was assigned under the Department of Homeland Security Chief Financial Officer in Washington D.C., where he served as an Assistant Director & Budget Program Reviewer providing oversight of more than $26 billion in annual appropriations. In 2007, he reported to Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, California where he held the positions of Operations Officer and Executive Officer. In 2011, he served as Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan. In addition, Captain Buzzella served at the Pentagon as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Director of the Chairman’s Action Group (CAG) under General Martin Dempsey, USA and General Joseph Dunford, USMC.
Captain Buzzella holds a Master in National Security Strategy from the National War College, a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University and a Master of Science in Quality Systems Management with a specialization in Homeland Security from the National Graduate School. He is a former Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Public Service Fellow.