The lifesaver

Before joining Thrivent Financial’s Oconomowoc office as a financial associate last year, Greg Buxa devoted much of his career to saving victims caught in the most harrowing of life or death situations.

Buxa, a North Dakota native, spent 28 years with the United States Coast Guard. Eighteen of those years were in operational roles as he flew around the country as a search and rescue pilot.

His love of helping others was largely what drove Buxa to enter the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., at age 18.

“I always liked to help people, and I knew I’d be helping people in the Coast Guard,” he said.

Buxa attended Navy flight school in Pensacola, Fla., and completed additional flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas. He also earned a command financial representative designation from the Navy, which enabled him to advise military personnel on the basics of finance throughout his career.

Buxa celebrating his retirement from the Coast Guard in California in spring 2013. Pictured with Buxa is his wife, Linda, and their three children Abby, Lydia and Ben.

During his time in the sky, he flew from New Jersey down south into Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, through Mexico and Central America, up the West Coast to Alaska and Russia, as well as out into the South Pacific.

While a portion of his missions required him to scope out illegal drug activity aboard ships, many of them brought him to the aid of civilians and military personnel in extreme danger. During his 24-hour shifts, Buxa rescued everyone from cruise ship passengers suffering heart attacks to hobbyist pilots involved in plane crashes.

While serving the Coast Guard, Buxa rose six ranks, eventually retiring as a captain. He capped his military career as chief of the preparedness division for the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area, working directly under the unit’s three-star admiral and managing the unit’s operational and contingency planning.

In his transition to a financial services career, Buxa said that, along with his desire to help others, many of the skills he developed in the Coast Guard transferred seamlessly, particularly his attention to detail, his keen sense of observation and his methodical approach to job demands.

“Those are all characteristics that are very good to have as a financial advisor,” he said.

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