Captain Mark Cawthorn is a native of Port Royal, South Carolina. He is a 1986 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and a 2011 graduate of the Naval War College. In June of 2011, he assumed duties as the 21st Commanding Officer of USCGC MUNRO (WHEC-724).
After commissioning, he was assigned to Key West, Florida where he completed tours as a Deck Watch Officer onboard USCGC UTE (WMEC-76), USS PEGASUS (PHM-1), and USCGC THETIS (WMEC-910). During this time, he patrolled extensively throughout the Caribbean and South America conducting counter-narcotics and alien migration interdiction patrols. As a law enforcement officer, he was credited with making numerous narcotics seizures.
Following his assignments in Key West, he was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at the U. S. Navy’s Fleet Training Group. While in Cuba, over 30,000 Haitian migrants fled their impoverished homeland in small, overcrowded sailing vessels. One of the largest peacetime flotillas in Coast Guard history was deployed in response to this crisis. The Haitians that were intercepted at sea were taken to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where they received humanitarian care and treatment. Captain Cawthorn was responsible for providing shore-side logistics support to the Joint Task Force activated for this operation.
He then completed a tour as Commanding Officer, USCGC MONOMOY (WPB-1326) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Under his command, MONOMOY was recognized for operational excellence, particularly their performance during several daring and heroic rescues during the winter storms off the coast of New England. After MONOMOY, he completed a tour at the First Coast Guard District Command Center is Boston, Massachusetts as the senior controller.
He was then assigned as Executive Officer, USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC-906) out of Boston, Massachusetts. During this tour, ESCANABA patrolled from the Great Lakes to the South Pacific and received several awards for high operational readiness and performance.
After ESCANABA, he was the Coast Guard Liaison Officer to the U. S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At the Embassy, he was responsible for the overall conduct of U. S. Coast Guard missions during a time of great political, social, and economic upheaval. He also performed as the maritime advisor to the government of Haiti and to the United Nations mission in Haiti.
He then returned to Boston as Commanding Officer of USCGC SENECA (WMEC-906). While on SENECA, he patrolled extensively off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and throughout the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, conducting counter-drug, alien migration interdiction, and homeland security patrols. SENECA was one of the first cutters to employ the airborne use of force concept to stop go-fast vessels smuggling drugs. Under his command, SENECA received numerous awards and citations for operational excellence.
After SENECA, Captain Cawthorn completed numerous tours in the Washington, DC area. He completed two assignments at the Department of State, working in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He was responsible for leading the Washington, DC interagency through the Presidential Directive Number 27 (PD-27) process. He was a member of numerous Interagency Policy Coordination Committees tasked to develop foreign policies related to counter-drug, alien migration, democracy and human rights, and maritime safety and security cooperation issues. He also completed several tours at Coast Guard Headquarters working with Acquisition Programs, to design and build the next generation of Coast Guard ships, aircraft, and shore facilities. He also served a tour as the Chief, Regional Affairs for the Coast Guard Directorate of International Affairs.
He is married to the lovely and wonderful former Deb Karch of New Jersey – who is an active duty LCDR in the Coast Guard. He has two children, Jacob Wyatt (17) and Leah Alexi (16). He is also is the proud owner of the best dog that ever lived, Akela the Wonder Husky. He enjoys hunting and fishing in his spare time.