Data Loading...

NavEx2017_Q3 Flipbook PDF

Navigator Express 2017_Q3




NAVIGATOR express SPECIAL AUXILIARY RESPONSE ISSUE plus 2nd part of the series recounting events of “The Finest Hours” The power of prayer: Coast Guard supports Aux Clergy Program

Celebrating the 227th Anniversary of the Coast Guard p. 20

And the Storm Raged On;


Story by Thea Narkiewicz

25 August 2017: Hurricane Harvey, one of the most devastating Category 4 hurricanes in the United States, slammed into the southeastern part of Port Aransas, Texas, just outside of Corpus Christi, Texas with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour. Even though coastal communities were braced for impact and evacuated earlier during the week, no one could have predicted the catastrophic flooding and devastation of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana in Harvey’s wake. Many U.S. Coast Guard units in Texas have been destroyed and over a thousand Coast Guard families, including Auxiliary members have been displaced. Auxiliary facilities were also damaged by flying debris and gale force winds. Looking out into the sunrise of the next day through clouds, civilians in need of rescue saw glimpses of silver linings defined by Coast Guard rescuers. Helicopters from all over the United States containing rescue swimmers rapelling down hoist cables and shallow-


draft vessels with Coast Guard personnel answered the needs of approximately 10,500+ people and pets. District Chief of Staff of Eighth Coastal Region, Auxiliarist Charles “Chuck” Maricle, was recalled from the National Auxiliary Convention (NACON) in Orlando, Florida, with the sense of duty to self and others and assisted in establishing, an information and call center that was integral in supporting air and surface facilities. Even though his home was severely damaged by the storm, Maricle worked tirelessly with Coast Guard and Auxiliary personnel to assist in coordinating rescue and response, assisting over 72,000 persons requiring resources or rescue. At a continued rate of 1,000 calls an hour, Auxiliary members were able to provide call center support for 30-45 minutes at a time until the emergency call center was moved to Washington, D.C. The support continued at the Incident Command Post (ICP) at


Sector Houston/Galveston, staffed with between 1530 Auxiliary members at a time. Their members served a vital role in the Joint Information Center (JIC) and in other positions in the operations, planning, resources, logistics, and communication departments. Twenty one Auxiliary members provided a convoy to transport government vehicles from San Antonio and Dallas to Houston while Auxiliary Food Services members fed countless hungry Coast Guardsmen filtering through galleys. Operationally, Auxiliary members have blended into air and surface operations often acting as air controllers, observers for search and rescue cases, flying logistical missions, and performing damage/ pollution assessments in the intercoastal waterway and aids to navigation verification. To continue in assisting the Coast Guard’s efforts for aiding southeastern Texas, the Incident Management Auxiliary Coordination Cell (IMACC) had been stood up at the Coast Guard District Eight building by Joseph Gleason, Deputy Director for Incident Management and Preparedness (Dir-Qd) at the peak of Hurricane Harvey’s wake. The composition of the IMACC consisted of several national and local leaders including deputy national commodores Alex Malewski and Linda Merryman, district commodores Bob Tippet and Thomas “Dave” McCandless, and district staff officers Cheryl Eubanks and Morrie Bishop. Several other core members of the team cycled in and out throughout the event and all participated in a cohesive and collaborative manner to get Auxiliarists to where they needed to be. With an inclusive effort, this powerhouse of leadership and knowledge were able to link active duty with Auxiliary counterparts to ensure that the mission was met with knowledge, prowess, and ability. According to Commodore Dave McCandless, “If you didn’t look at collar devices, you wouldn’t be able to tell who is Auxiliary and who is active duty”. The seamless integration between active duty and the Auxiliary force multiplier demonstrated the cornerstone of the successful mission support and longevity of available resources. Headquartered in the heart of New Orleans, the IMACC served as a one-stop shop for requesting Auxiliary support services ranging from administrative duties

OR express

Michael Heid, USCG Aux LEFT: COMO Malewski, DNACO-O and COMO Merryman, DNACO-ITP discuss response planning in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. ABOVE: Auxiliarists work their assigned areas during the response to Hurricane Harvey.

to operation specialists. During the inaugural roll-out, the IMACC contributed to finding qualified Auxiliarists to fill requests from active duty counterparts based on the ICS (Incident Command System) requirements and researching skills bank and qualification databases. “If we wonder why we train, why we take the ICS (Incident Command System) courses, why we take the mandated courses, this [event] should be enough to convince our members of why we should be ready,” wrote Commodore Randy Ventress, District Commodore for Eighth Eastern Region. Based on qualifications and appropriate fit for position, members were assigned to duty, given orders, and were deployed to their respective missions. Throughout the process, at least 100 Auxiliarists were successfully deployed in support of the Coast Guard mission. As the phase of the event moved from “response” to “recovery”, nationally, Auxiliary members were at the ready and had volunteered for the call in various areas including; working in the ICP, performing air operations, operations ashore, operations afloat, public affairs, food services, general administration, and interpreting. Looking to the future, the Coast Guard will continue to remain vigilant on preparing for the worst, yet hoping for the best. With a collaborative approach between the active duty and the Auxiliary, more lives will continue to be saved, rescues continue to be sharper, and responses continue to be quicker.


Auxiliary Aviators Support Coast Guard Efforts for Hurricane Harvey Story by Robert A. Fabich, Sr.

On the morning of August 26, 2017 Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) Savannah launched a MH-65D helicopter and a full crew to CGAS Houston to support Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts. Concurrently, Auxiliary Aviation (AUXAIR) in District 7 was activated. Auxiliary aircraft support lasted nine days and included 20 missions totaling 25.8 flight hours.

The Scramble

On Saturday, August 26, an Air Station Savannah call from CDR Drew Behnke, Operations Officer, for transport missions to Aviation Training Center Mobile, found Doug Armstrong, Aircraft Commander in Augusta, GA, with his flight gear in Asheville, NC, and his aircraft in Morganton, NC. A series of prepositioning flights in Aircraft Commander Ken Plesser’s facility along with additional road miles resulted in Armstrong’s Citation Mustang twinturbojet facility, Armstrong pilot-in-command, and Plesser second-in-command, all in Columbia, SC by nightfall for an early morning launch. (3.5 flight hours)

First Transport success leads to more requests

On Sunday, August 27, Armstrong and Plesser flew to Savannah-Hilton Head Airport to meet two USCG pilots, LT Sam Pemberton and LT Nate Brock and two maintainers, AET2 Brett Eisenberger and AMT3 Melanie Carter. The mission was to transport these four personnel to ATC Mobile, AL for further transport downrange, before returning to Columbia. Upon landing, the Air Station requested Armstrong and Plesser for two more flights the next day. The AUXAIR pilots, determining that doing so would exceed limitations of the duty-day if begun in Columbia, flew back to Savannah to remain overnight (RON). 5.0 flight hours)

More missions catch attention of the media

The mission was to trans President Trump and oth (Harvey) and hundreds m

USCG Aux Photo

On Monday, August 28, Armstrong and Plesser met one rescue swimmer, AST2 Wesley Price, and three flight mechanics, AMT2 Robert Reddit, AET3 Taylor Wolf, and AMT3 Lorenzo Leon in Savannah and transported them to ATC Mobile. After a quick fuel turnaround, they returned to Air Station Savannah (Hunter Army Airfield) to pick up more USCG crew for transport. WTOC-TV, Channel 11, was on the ramp for their arrival and the re-launch. Video about the mission, AUXAIR, and an interview with Captain Marshall Branch, USCG Commander was aired on the evening news in Savannah. Captain Branch personally expressed his appreciation to AUXAIR. “Ken, can’t thank you and Doug enough for your support of getting our aircrew and support personnel to the fight in D8. They’ve been incredibly busy


A successful AUXAIR mission always begins with proper preparation.


USCG Aux Photo

sport three members of a USCG Flood Punt Rescue Team: BOSN2 Hoffman, BM1 Sullivan and BM3 Kraynak to Fort Myers, Fla to meet with her dignitaries for a “thank you” ceremony. The Flood Punt Team had been on the road for three weeks, rescuing hundreds in Houston more in Jacksonville (Irma). Pictured (l to r) are: Hoffman, Sullivan, auxiliarist Armstrong, VADM Karl Schultz, auxiliarist Plesser and Kraynak.


since arriving and there is much more work to be done. AUXAIR providing personnel lift capability point-topoint is a real game changer.” Armstrong and Plesser were next asked to transport USCG MH-65 pilots, LT Tim Mosher and LT Nate Rhodes to CGAS Houston. This request was declined by AUXAIR because of the length of the duty day and an uncertain fuel situation on-scene. Therefore, Armstrong and Plesser transported the two pilots to ATC Mobile, as originally planned then returned to Columbia to disembark Plesser, then to Morganton, NC. (7.8 flight hours)

Air support is not over yet

Four days later, on Friday, September 1, Air Station Savannah called for additional downrange transport missions in support of Hurricane Harvey crew swaps. Armstrong flew from Morganton, NC to Columbia, SC in the afternoon to pick up Plesser. Both flew to Savannah, GA to RON for an early morning launch. (1.8 flight hours)

AUXAIR shares tarmac with the President and garners more media attention

OR express

Continued on Page 6



Continued from page 5

USCG Aux Photo A USCG flight crew conducts a pre-flight departure procedure prior to taking off.

Since incident de-mobilizing had begun, the mission on Saturday, September 2, was to take one flight mechanic, AMT2 Alan Smith, to CGAS Houston, and meet four personnel there for the return to Savannah: one pilot, LT Jon Magin, two rescue swimmers, AST2 Wesley Price and AST2 Jason Flynt, and one flight mechanic, AMT2 Josue Valentin. Armstrong and Plesser arrived at 10:30AM local time, just prior to the closing of Ellington Field for the arrival of President Trump. The President’s meeting with survivors and greeting of responders at CGAS Houston took longer than expected, and the field was under a Temporary Flight Restriction closure the entire time. Finally, with active duty loaded, AUXAIR launched at 5:00PM, returning to CGAS Savannah at 7:30PM. There they were met by media from three Savannah area TV stations: WTOC, WSAV-TV, Channel 3 (NBC), and WJCL-TV, Channel 22 (ABC). WTOC reported


that some of the crews were delayed due to the President’s visit in Houston. WSAV interviewed active duty, showing Armstrong and Plesser in the coverage. WJCL focused on the rescues performed by active duty returned by AUXAIR. (5.6 flight hours)

An MH-65D makes precautionary landing and receives help from AUXAIR

The day-before’s de-mobilization activity included the return of Savannah’s deployed MH-65D and a full crew. That helicopter travelled as far as Vidalia, GA when a report of possible contaminated fuel demanded a precautionary landing; the crew completed their return to the Air Station by rental car. On Sunday, September 3, Armstrong and Plesser were tasked to bring a fresh crew consisting of LCDR Jim Masel, LT Eric Barnett and AMT2 Brent Ellis from the Air Station to the Vidalia airport to recover the aircraft. Having completed this assignment,


AUXAIR returned to Columbia, SC, thence to Morganton, NC. (2.1 flight hours)

USCG Aux Photo

Gold side appreciation

Air Station Savannah had much to say about the activities of AUXAIR. Captain Marshall Branch, USCG Commander of Air Station Savannah was grateful: “You guys were AMAZING and we are in your debt for your incredible support. Thank you both for your professionalism and dedication to the mission!” CDR Tim Eason, Executive Officer, Air Station Savannah wrote: “Great job Ken & Doug! Thanks for the tremendous support that expedited getting our folks directly into and out of theatre!” LT Crystal A. Barnett, Administration officer, Savannah Air Station said, “Awesome Guys.” Throughout the intense 9-day period, the coordination provided by Auxiliary Liaison Officer (AUXLO) LTJG Rob Mineo was essential to the success of District 7. This period of intense flight activity demonstrates the seamless response that AUXAIR can offer when there is a strong bond of respect and trust between the AUXAIR cadre and the parent Air Station. This is the operational model that the Seventh District has implemented and continues to nurture.

RIGHT ABOVE: Air Force One shares the tarmac with facilities from all the military branches. RIGHT BELOW: President Trump visits Coast Guard teams in Ft. Myers, Fla. The President’s visit was to thank and showcase the hard work and dedication of those teams in response to the Hurricanes. ABOVE: Video of the President’s visit.

OR express

USCG Aux Photo


USCG Aux Photo

USCG Aux Photo

ANSWERING Service, Support, Leadership:

Hurricane Harvey’s Legacy Story by Bret Fendt

When the country is faced with a national crisis, the need for help is constant. In the wake of the devastation Texas residents faced, Auxiliarists rushed to help in any way possible. As a force multiplier of the United States Coast Guard, that help varied based on need and demand. In the days following this storm, members from Texas and Louisiana supported Coast Guard efforts. Auxiliarists from Flotillas 4-10 and 4-44 in District 8CR offered communications support in the forward operating air base in southwestern Louisiana. Six members from Flotilla 75 in Austin, Texas, answered the call to support relief efforts following hurricane


LEFT: Auxiliarist Roberto Ortiz-Diaz assigns tracking numbers to all do as TCO with Coast Guard pilots and aircrew during search and rescue Helicopter coordinator for Search and Rescue Air operations. Assigni identify and locate persons in need of rescue. FOLLOWING PAGE TOP: RADM Thomas (left) visits USCG Auxiliary communications unit supp pictured are AUX team members Bernie David, Doran Bullock, and Sta

Harvey. Auxiliarist Nicholas Teague was assigned to support USCG Air Station Houston with search and rescue efforts in the Air Station’s Communication Center. Teague’s Auxiliary qualifications include Telecommunications Operator and Certified EMT, making him a valued asset to assist Coast Guard responses. Teague’s skills resulted in him being assigned as Telecommunications Watch Stander and Helicopter Coordinator. This position required him to oversee the assignment of helicopters to individual search and rescue cases communicating latitude and longitude to crews in the field, relaying patients’ status, and providing landing conditions directly with flight crews. Teague’s role focused on ensuring those


USCG Aux Photo


ocumentation so that it can be searched for doing freedom of information act requests. CENTER: Auxiliarist Nicholas Teague communicating e missions at Air Station Houston. Providing locations and details of persons in need of rescue, medical assistance, or evacuation. RIGHT: ing helicopters to individual search and rescue cases, updating mission status, gathering information to provide to pilots and aircrew to : Communications trailer from Flotilla 4-10 out of Baton Rouge, LA sits on the ramp at USCG forward operating base. NEXT PAGE BOTTOM: porting USCG forward operating air base in southwestern Louisiana. Also pictured are: AUX Tim Hale (center) and AUX Darryl Viator. Not acy Judice. All are from D8CR Flotillas 4-10 and 44.

in need of rescue, medical assistance, or evacuation were found and extraction was done safely. In the days Teague worked at Air Station Houston, he oversaw 51 rescues and 13 assists. The roles he played, are unique, as most Auxiliarists in the field are not given this level of responsibility. However, response to such situations calls for the implementation of the Incident Command System, which requires the use of personnel based upon their proper training and qualifications. Teague’s training and experience provided the Coast Guard with a much-needed resource. His skills made him uniquely qualified and he was assigned to oversee Air Station Houston

OR express

Communications Center operations during the night shift in the absence of the Communication Center Air Boss. This role required members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary to work side-by-side with Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel, thereby providing a perfect example of a Unified Command and Joint Service Operation. In addition to the support of Air Station Houston, the Auxiliary supported the Air Operations Branch at Sector Houston-Galveston Incident Command Post. Auxiliarists Abel Garcia, Stephanie Long, and Berhilo Galvan were assigned to input data after receiving distress calls from persons in need of rescue,

Continued on Page 10


USCG Aux Photo

evacuation or medical aid. This data was input into a search and rescue tracking system and assigned individual case numbers. Additionally, Garcia assisted in writing computer code for this new and innovative system that was temporarily put in place due to the existing system being off-line. Auxiliarists Zachary Calovic and Micah Vickers provided additional Auxiliary support by conducting

a logistical mission and delivered supplies to a FEMA Camp in Conroe, Texas. Auxiliarists who answer the call during similar situations will find themselves supporting efforts in a variety of ways. Auxiliarists who serve in support of such efforts, do so by maintaining the proud tradition of serving with honor, respect and devotion to duty.

USCG Aux Photo



SEMPER PARATUS Team Coast Guard Steps Up During Hurricane Harvey Story by H William Smith Semper Paratus, in Latin, means, “always ready.” It is the motto of the United States Coast Guard and is taken to heart by every member of the Coast Guard. This motto rang true during the recent Coast Guard response to Hurricane Harvey. The Coast Guard performed brilliantly, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary was an integral member of that team. Harvey became the first major hurricane to hit the continental United States since Wilma in 2005. Ultimately, Harvey grew into a weather disaster of historic proportions that tested the entire Coast Guard, including the Auxiliary. We spoke to Rear Adm. Paul F. Thomas, commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, who oversaw the Coast Guard’s response to Harvey. Adm. Thomas, you had to hit the ground running. What was that experience like? What was the Auxiliary’s role working with other agencies during Harvey? Thomas: Six days in to my command, Tropical Storm Harvey formed and it was expected to be a weak tropical storm and meander its way into Mexico. Four days later, it was hitting Texas as a category four storm; very different than [Hurricane] Irma, in that the time to prepare just wasn’t there. A historic storm, it hit the state three times, the first category four storm in the nation since 2005. It required, quite honestly, a historic response. I was really privileged

OR express

H William Smith, USCG Aux

to help lead that response, but it was the whole of the Coast Guard responding. We used every asset in [the Eighth District] and we brought in assets from every other district in the Coast Guard. Almost every air station in the Coast Guard participated.

The Auxiliary joins the fight While many Auxiliary members around the Eighth District and beyond wanted to help, there were many local Auxiliary members on the Gulf Coast who were an integral part of the Team Coast Guard response. Thomas: The Coast Guard Auxiliary, in particular, participated. At our incident command post in Houston, for example, some of our crew went to bed one night and weren’t able to get out of their houses the next morning because the rain came that fast. We had Auxiliarists show up at the ICP and fill critical incident command positions while we were waiting for our active duty crew to get in there. But we also had Auxiliarists who took their own vehicles, high water vehicles if you will, and rounded up some of our crew members.

Doing what needs to be done Thomas said Auxiliarists from all over District Eight helped out wherever they were needed. Auxiliary members, particularly in District Eight, Western Rivers and Eastern Region, were asked to contact Continued on Page 12



Continued from page 11

their commodores and provide their skills and qualifications. It was stressed to the Auxiliary that no member should “self-deploy.”

effect and I think one of the lessons we are going to pursue form this may be formalizing a number of Auxiliary [Incident Management Teams.]

Thomas: Auxiliarists being Auxiliarists, they just got to the command post and looked around and said, ‘Okay, someone needs to help check people in. We need some food here.’ They pitched in there in every way possible.

What did you learn that you will now take forward in your career?

The focus shifts to Beaumont As the storm moved back offshore and regained strength, the Coast Guard’s focus shifted to the east to the Beaumont, TX., area. Thomas: When this storm shifted to Beaumont and dropped 30 inches of rain on Beaumont, the Coast Guard was the first there with our aircraft. We had a forward operating base for aircraft at Southland Airport, but we had no communications with our aircraft, so the Coast Guard Auxiliary mobilized a communications trailer. The Auxiliary communications team and equipment was critical to the success of the air mission. Cmdr. Tina Pena, who is our commanding officer of the air station in New Orleans, was the task force manager. She utilized that trailer in order to track and task more than 50 aircraft of the Coast Guard and other agencies to execute more than a couple hundred rescues in that area. That was because of the capability that the Auxiliary brought us. In [the Eighth District] for example, we had an Auxiliary cell set up; they were critical in doing our accountability for the Auxiliary but also in helping us understand what the Auxiliary could bring to the fight.

Lessons learned What has been learned from the Auxiliary response to Harvey and how will that influence operations going forward? Thomas: One of the concepts that I think was proven out was this concept of an Auxiliary Incident Management Team, where Auxiliarists who are specially trained and experienced in ICS can deploy to this incident. We used them in Houston to great


Thomas: The “lessons learned” process is ongoing and will take a number of months, but there are some initial lessons. I will tell you though, having been involved in a number of major incidents in the past, including Katrina, Rita and Deep Water Horizon, and even before those, our nation has improved our ability to respond to these things. And, even in Katrina, our nation responded to that hurricane better than any nation in the world could do. We are just getting better. But there are always key lessons learned. In the case of Harvey, we saw the 9-1-1 system being overrun. Just so many people making calls for help that the county couldn’t handle it, and then, the state couldn’t handle it, and eventually, someone told [the public] to call the Coast Guard and so the Coast Guard was getting more than a thousand calls per hour. We eventually adjusted to that. We innovated on the fly so that we could track all those calls and respond to them in priority order. There are a number of other key lessons that have to do with how we flow logistics support. The Commandant established a Deployable Operational Logistics [DOL] a number of years ago. That command was incredibly effective. As the operational commander, all I had to do was ask; I did not have to arrange the logistics and so I think one of the key lessons here is that our DOL has been really effective.

Team Coast Guard was Semper Paratus The Coast Guard’s successful response to Harvey is credited to its adherence to preparedness and teamwork. Thomas: We had our reserve forces, we had our civilians working overtime and we had our incredible volunteers there, right side-by-side. It was something the Coast Guard, and the nation, to be proud of.



The Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Role Article by COMO Alex Malewski, DNACO-O Over 300 trained volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary from across the U.S. assisted the first responders and victims of the storms Harvey & Irma. Since 1939 the US Coast Guard Auxiliary members have stepped up to help our communities and the Coast Guard assist in life saving, environmental protection, and administrative support. The role of the Auxiliary in the hurricane response is threefold guided by the Coast Guard values: Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. First, by honoring the guidance from the Coast Guard to not self-activate; Auxiliarists should not impulsively drive to any area impacted by these storms and take actions that confuse or obstruct the organization

or perhaps become a collateral victim. During the temporary wait time the Auxiliary continues to be Semper Paratus (Always Ready) by training, planning, and analyzing opportunities to assist the Coast Guard and members of impacted communities. Second, Auxiliarists’ duties provide technical expertise, ingenuity and resourcefulness to the decimated areas from Houston to the Florida peninsula and the surrounding areas. And lastly, collecting photos, stories, facts & documenting the tragic event for the benefit of our community and it’s after action feedback. By supporting these three roles, we all will see continued success from our combined efforts.

Unit Piedmont Student Receives Silver DAR

Outstanding Cadet Medal Story by Sankey Blanton

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a women’s service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education, patriotism and honoring Revolutionary War patriots. Founded in 1890, it has been supporting military organizations for over 125 years. ROTC programs really got going prior to America’s 06 April 1917 entry into World War One and comes from the “Plattsburg Idea.” In 1915, Major General Leonard Wood instituted the Citizen’s Military Training Corps, the first series of training camps to make officers out of civilians. The DAR has been recognizing Outstanding Cadets since then. The U.S. Coast Guard has no ROTC, but in 2007 began the Auxiliary University Program (AUP) to help prepare college graduates for Officer Candidate School (OCS). In the fall of 2012 the Piedmont AUP Unit was established at UNC-CH under the direction of Baskin Cooper. Piedmont AUP graduates have gone on to jobs in the Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, and Environmental or Maritime Science fields. On April 19th, representatives of the North Carolina Society DAR, Davie Poplar Chapter, presented the Silver DAR Outstanding Cadet Medal to Jamie Marie Ramos. This presentation was the first to an AUP Cadet in North Carolina. Presenting the Award Certificate was Ms. Jane Forbes who was instrumental in bringing the AUP Cadet program to the attention of the DAR. Presenting the Silver Medal was Ms. Jean Lusted, the Regent of the Davie Poplar Chapter. It is just possible that this was the first time this medal has been awarded in any of the 20 AUP Units in the county. No matter, it makes this Tar Heel proud.

OR express


Editor’s Note: In part one of this series, which can be found HERE, Engineman Second Class Andy Fitzgerald recounted how he became a member of the crew of motor lifeboat CG 36500, featured in the Disney Studios film The Finest Hours. Fitzgerald is the only surviving member of the crew.

YourBringing Fines The L

Story by H W. Smith

This article, and the one that preceded it, looks at the desire to serve through the example of a Coast Guard crew that served with distinction in the most dire of circumstances. It seeks to consider what happens when the abstract desire to serve becomes heroically real. It is in those stories that the bedrock Coast Guard values of, “Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty,” shine brightest. It is in the legendary actions of Coast Guard heroes that answers to the question of service before self can be found, particularly when times get tough.

The Rescue

What follows are some of Fitzgerald’s memories of the rescue as were related during an interview conducted by Chief Petty Officer Stanley Ritter (SR), Master Chief Petty Officer Jack Hunter, USCG (Ret) (JH) and Auxiliarist and Public Affairs Specialist 1, Patrick 27 Hickey (PH). Fitzgerald’s comments have been edited for clarity and are only a part of a longer interview that has been preserved. (Ed.)

USCG Photo

Fitzgerald continues his account, saying: AF Now Bernie Webber was one of the best coxswains in the Coast Guard. I knew that. And the 36500 was one of the best 36 footers, I mean: flip over and come back up. I knew that, so I really wanted to go on that rescue. So, I got on there …they are looking around, I am looking around. I said, there are no engine rooms around here, so do you mind if I go to the bathroom? That never came up so I was all right.


USCG Photo

On February 18, 1952 during a full-scale ‘Nor’easter’ gale with snow and 5:50 a.m. At the time of the break, the vessel’s circuit breakers tripped to operate normally, including all machinery and lighting. Gone with other crewmen, all destined to perish. Part of the bow section would b



st Hours 2 Legend To Life

h, with Patrick Hickey

PH I have a couple of questions. Give me some of what you did while you were out. How did the engine run for you? Did it die, did you have to restart it? AF It did start. That night, it stopped three times so I went down to start it three times, that night… You know, as a favor to him I was doing it, Fitzgerald said of his willingness to go on the case. Actually, I wanted to be on the damn boat, he added. PH Did you have any trouble with any of the electrical stuff like the lights. AF A couple of times things went out.

Crossing the Chatham Bar PH How many times did you go completely under the water and come back up because of the waves? AF I know one time, it lifted me up about three feet I dropped down right back on the same spot. Bernie told me later he thought: God, I lost Andy overboard… because he saw me go up and come back down. But I was tough to get rid of. So I ended up crawling along on the side of the boat, and got back on 36500. JH Do you remember getting all the people off the boat? All the people coming down that Jacob’s Ladder?

d high seas, the T/V Pendleton split in half off Cape Cod at approximately d, leaving the bow section without power. The stern section continued h the darkened bow section were Captain John Fitzgerald and seven become grounded 6 miles off Chatham Mass. No S.O.S. was ever issued.

OR express 4

Fitzgerald said: I do, I remember going, and I thought there was 2 or 3 people on that tanker. And as we are pulling up, the rail … they all come standing along the rail. I said: My God, there are thirty or forty people there. It is thirty feet high up there. How do we get up there to get them off? They threw over a Jacob’s Ladder. They started coming down the ladder, so Bernie immediately went over to the side, and I got out of that little hole in the front, and I went on the side, to take the people off the ladders.

Continued on Page 16

15 8

Your Finest Hours

Continued from page 15

A Decision Is Made.

Fitzgerald continues: And then, there was about eight people left up at the top… Bernie told me that, I looked at Bernie, and thought: He is thinking about something? What in the hell is he thinking? He’s thinking we are already really overloaded… On what we’ve got now, I could take off and go back, back over the bar, drop these people off, come back over the bar, and get these eight people. Then he (Webber) said, what I thought was: Oh the hell with it, we are all going to live, or we are all going to die. I was hoping he was staying to get those eight people, and he did.

are going to land. I am not sure exactly where we are going to land. Put the boat on the land and we are all going to jump off. Everybody says fine…

The Sea Claims Tiny Myers

So then, I went off that little hole I was in (the forward compartment), and I went along the side, and a guy that came down went in to the water. His name was Tiny Myers (George Myers). He was about … maybe … at the front of the boat, holding on to a line. We had already downloaded several people from the tanker. So I said: Tiny, come over to me, and we have people that can lift you off, right here, on the side. But he never did, and all of a sudden he disappeared…he kind of floated away. I think he got crushed between the boat and so he died. I did have hold of his hand when he jumped on the boat, but then I didn’t hold him. I just grabbed him and he slipped. He was a big guy. Naked on the top and all that stuff, he was more than a 300 pounder. So he died. But he was the only one that died.

A Triumphant Return JH Do you remember what happened when you got back in to Old Harbor? AF Yeah we come in, and I guess all of the people from the town, they had heard that we had gone out, and they all went down to Old Harbor. The movie shows it, and I guess it is true that they put their lights on all the cars that came down. They figured… they didn’t know if we were coming back that way, or not, or what the hell we were going to do. Bernie said: We’re going to shoot for the coast and see where we


USCG Photo

USCG Photo TOP: The Rescue Boat CG36500 returned to the Chatham Fish Pier with 32 survivors of the tanker PENDLETON after the rescue at sea. EN3 Andrew Fitzgerald is on the bow ready to handle the tie up at the pier. The other three men are PENDLETON survivors. ABOVE: Crew and survivors line up along the side of the boat to climb ashore.

Webber Takes Care of His Shipmates JH Remember when they took you to Washington D.C. to give you the gold medal? Remember that event. Do you want to tell us about that?


AF Well what happened on this was Bernie Webber got called back to our station one time, and an admiral or a captain called him. And (the person on the phone) said: Bernie, you did a great job on this rescue, and we’re going to give you the highest award we can give you. We’re going to give you the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal. So Bernie Webber says: Well, what about my crew? They were in as much danger as I was, and we were four guys who were in that boat. And they said well, we’ll give them the silver lifesaving medal. And Bernie Webber says: I don’t want the gold then. They were in as much danger as I was. If they don’t (get) the gold I won’t take the gold. The captain says. Oh, all right, we will give them all the gold lifesaving medal. So I got a gold lifesaving medal. And all the other guys did too. They’re all dead now so I am really the only one left from that. I was nineteen. No, I was twenty years old the others are all twenty one, twenty two, twenty three, something like that. I think Bernie was, I thought Bernie was 23, but later I read he might have been 29, but I am not sure. You know. It was a night to remember. It was great. This brings to an end Fitzgerald’s interview.


EDITORIAL STAFF Bret Fendt Editor Roger Bazeley Assistant Editor H William Smith Assistant Editor Zacary E. Wilson Assistant Editor Curtis Pratt Layout Editor Review Team Brian Harte Mary Patton


Epilog The film, released in January 2016, was highly anticipated in Coast Guard and Auxiliary circles. A number of connections were made to the events that took place on that stormy night in 1952 and the present as the story was translated on to the silver screen. The film, like most historical films, was made more theatrical by additions to the script that deviated from the actual events. But, most of the plot embellishments involved elements of the story that took place on shore. The details of the rescue itself, as portrayed in the film, conform closely to the accounts of the event that are now a part of Coast Guard history. So, why did Fitzgerald and his shipmates continue on to the Pendleton when they would have been certainly within their rights to return to Chatham Station with an already damaged motor lifeboat? And, why did they take on the added risk of putting all 32 Pendleton crewmen on a boat that was designed to carry half that many? While those, and other, questions are not easily answered, some inkling of what drove four young Coasties to go above and beyond the call of duty can be found in Fitzgerald’s story. The leadership of Bernie Webber, and Fitzgerald’s trust in that leadership, is evident throughout the interview and the supporting materials considered for this series. Webber’s leadership on the night of the rescue and in making sure that each of his shipmates was honored with the Gold Lifesaving Medal offers a great example of adherence to core Coast Guard values. The pure excitement of being a part of something important, despite the risks involved, is evident in Fitzgerald’s account of how he and the rest of the

OR express

Navigator Express

Continued on Page 18

Sankey Blanton District Five Southern Robert A. Fabich Sr. District Seven Ralph Fairbanks District Nine Western Joseph Giannattasio District Five Northern Michael Heid District Eight Eastern Region Patrick Hickey District Eight Western Rivers Doug Kroll District Thirteen Darin D. Lenz District Eleven Northern Lauren Steenson

NATIONAL STAFF Richard F. Mihalcik Director of Public Affairs Thea Narkiewicz Deputy Director, Publications Thomas Ceniglio Deputy Director, Support Robert Miller, M.D. Division Chief, Publications © Copyright 2017 Coast Guard Auxiliary Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

17 8

Your Finest Hours

Continued from page 17 crew were assembled. Often, it is that excitement that draws recruits to the Coast Guard and, by extension, its Auxiliary. There was surely a point that night, however, when the excitement of going out on a SAR case had been worn off by the storm and the realization of the danger the crew was facing had to come into play. That, while not overtly stated, is when devotion to duty, to fellow shipmates and those in peril had to have been at least part of the equation.

USCG Photo Thankful to be alive the four crewman take a well-deserved break. Relaxing at the station with coffee and doughnuts are (l to ): BM1 Bernard Webber, EN3 Andrew Fitzgerald, SN Richard Livesey and SN Irving Maske.

Finally, there are the intangibles of heroism that take ordinary people to extraordinary places in history. Many individuals who make the commitment to volunteer for the Auxiliary are drawn to their service by the hope that they might respond, when called upon, in the way that the crew of CG36500 did. That is why the history of the Coast Guard, and its Auxiliary, needs to be remembered and passed on to future generations. The core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty serve as a beacon that shows all of us the way to go forward.

USCG Aux Photo Andrew Fitzgerald (middle) today with members of the Auxiliary.

End of Part 2 of Your Finest Hours 18


The Power of Prayer USCG Photo

Doug Kroll, USCG Aux Rev. Dr. Doug Kroll, left, Auxiliarist from District 13, officiates at the Change of Command ceremony for the USCGC Healy.

Story by Doug Kroll

Navy chaplains are assigned to the Coast Guard (referred to as Coast Guard Chaplains during the assignment) to provide Religious Ministry to Coast Guard members. Due to the limited number of Coast Guard Chaplains, they may be prevented or delayed in the timely response to Religious Ministry requirements. The Coast Guard recognizing that the CG Auxiliary is composed of many skilled volunteers, some of whom have clergy credentials, called on these qualified Auxiliarists to fill this need by establishing the Auxiliary Clergy Support Program. Officially authorized by COMDTINST 1730.5 in late October of 2016 and it was announced the following month by ALCOAST 398. Auxiliarists with clergy credentials must meet many of the same qualifications as members of the Navy Chaplain Corps, which are described in COMDTINST 1730.5. There is a significant vetting process. The Chaplain of the Coast Guard, at Coast Guard Headquarters, administers this program and its associated qualification and training requirements. The Clergy Support Program does not replace Coast Guard Chaplains, but supplements and supports their mission. Clergy Support Auxiliarists serve under the direct supervision of their designated Coast Guard Chaplain and must coordinate and report all Religious Ministry support to that Coast Guard Chaplain. This past May (2017) the first six Auxiliary Clergy Support volunteers were approved. The following month one of those six was called upon to fulfill a need. The CGC HEALY (WAGB-20) the largest ship in the Coast Guard fleet had a change of command scheduled for 22 June and the PACAREA Chaplain, the D13 Chaplain and the Sector Columbia River Chaplain all had previous commitments for other ceremonies and were unavailable. They called Auxiliary Clergy Support Volunteer, The Rev. Dr. Doug Kroll (Flotilla 130-0606), to see if he could provide the prayers at the change of command ceremony. He agreed. The ceremony, which included VADM Fred Midgette, Commander, Pacific Area, and had RADM Throop, Thirteen District Commander, in attendance, had an Auxiliarist providing the Invocation and Benediction Prayers. It was a first and provided a very public example of the purpose and value of the Aux. Clergy Support Program. If you are an Auxiliarist who holds clergy credentials and want to support Religious Ministry programs in the Coast Guard supervised by Coast Guard Chaplains you can obtain more information reading COMDINST 1730.5 and by contacting: DVC-HH Kroll.

OR express


227th Anniversary ABOVE: It takes a lot of Auxiliary involvement to support the many activities during the festival. Crew members on 44359 and 41306 patrolled during the Parade of Ships, Waterski Show, and Fireworks Extravaganza. TOP ROW (l to r): Dave Gaylord, Larry Owens, Ryan Berlin, Steve Bowyer, Charles Lang, Grant Jones, and Ralph Fairbanks. BOTTOM ROW: Terry Boersen, Sean Davis, Andy Vink, Jeremy Saunders, Tom Johnson, Ken Bennett, and Tim O’Donnell.

Story by Ralph Fairbanks


GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – Grand Haven is normally a sleepy little town on the east coast of Lake Michigan about a third of the way up the west side of the mitten state. It’s a go-to place for visitors wanting to get out of the hustle bustle of the city and enjoy some time on the beach next to one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. Grand Haven, at one time, was a lumber town and some say the hardwoods from Michigan were sent to rebuild Chicago after the great


Coast Guard City Celebrates...

of the Coast Guard Lauren Steenson, USCG Aux

fire in 1871. However, Lake Michigan storms created havoc for boats and their crews and dozens of them are now resting on the lake bottom including the Rouse Simmons, known as the Christmas Tree Ship. 1871 was also the year that a group of volunteers got together to form a life saving team to rescue mariners at sea and later, by an Act of Congress, it became the Life Saving Service. In 1915 Congress combined the Life Saving Service with the Revenue Service which

OR express

was authorized in 1790 and created the modern day Coast Guard. This brings us back to Grand Haven which was the first Coast Guard City USA, this year celebrating the 227th anniversary of the Coast Guard. The city’s residents welcome over 300,000 visitors each year to the Coast Guard festival. It’s usually held during the first week of August and planners schedule numerous activities during the week in honor of the Coast Guard. 2017 was no exception. Some of Continued on Page 22


Ralph Fairbanks, USCG Aux

CG City

Continued from page 21

the major events included the arrival of the ships and onboard tours, memorial services, a downtown carnival, daily entertainment, and on the last Saturday, the Grand Parade and fireworks extravaganza. Grand Haven again demonstrated its Midwest hospitality. One special guest, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said “if anyone in America is the least bit cynical, they should come to Grand Haven! The hospitality is over the top“. Admiral Zukunft was in town for the celebration and also met with Mr. Jeffery Hutchinson, Canadian Coast Guard commissioner during a summit to discuss cooperation between the countries on key environmental and economic issues.

The highlight of the festival is the parade of ships, when several cutters arrive just outside the harbor of Grand Haven and at a designated time make a grand entrance. This year it was the Mackinaw, the Bristol Bay, the Biscayne Bay, the Alder and the Canadian ship, Constable Carriere. ABOVE: The cutters parked along Government Basin in front of Station Grand Haven while more than 32,000 visitors came aboard to explore their inner workings. BELOW: A collage of the cutters that participated.

Ralph Fairbanks, USCG Aux


Many of the Festival activities honored the men and women of the Coast Guard and gave them an opportunity to enjoy some of the scheduled events, like the Grand Parade, the golf tournament, softball tournament, retirees dinner, waterball competition, and worship on the waterfront. Several tribute bands played during the evening performances, including the Beatles Tribute, Elton John & Billy Joel Tribute, and Michael Jackson Tribute. The National Memorial Service, held at Escanaba Park, honors the brave members of the Coast Guard who passed over the bar in the last year. Escanaba Park is a memorial in its own right. It honors the 101 crew members who lost their lives in 1943 when the cutter Escanaba exploded and sank while on convoy duty in the North Atlantic during World War II. The Coast Guard Auxiliary assisted by volunteering hundreds of hours doing ship tours, patrolling, and serving in a myriad of other ways. Two Auxiliary facilities, 44359 and 41306 and their 12 crewmembers, escorted the cutters Mackinaw, Bristol Bay, Biscayne Bay, Alder, and the Canadian Constable Carriere from Lake Michigan into the Grand Haven harbor during the parade of ships. These ships assemble only once a year from their posts on the Great Lakes. 31


Ralph Fairbanks, USCG Aux

Auxiliarists filled 112 positions during the five days of ship tour duties when over 32,000 visitors came to take a look at the ships tied up to the quay wall. It was an all hands effort when Auxiliarists participated in two parades, driving duties, crowd control, Coastie operations, Kid’s day events, 5K run, and on the water safety patrols.

All in all, it was a successful celebration and many kudos go out to all the Auxiliarists who helped make it a time to remember by the crews and staff of the United States Coast Guard. Next year the Auxiliary will once again be “Semper Paratus!“

Ralph Fairbanks, USCG Aux

Ralph Fairbanks, USCG Aux TOP: Admiral Zukunft, Commandant of the Coast Guard, is piped aboard the USCGC Mackinaw followed by Mr. Jeffery Hutchinson, Canadian Coast Guard commissioner and other guests. ABOVE LEFT and RIGHT: Good food was not in short supply as Auxiliarist Randy Rottschafer and his wife Dee (left), prepare the smoker for Randy’s famous barbeque pork sandwiches, and Auxiliarists Gayle and Joe Sedlock (right) performed Food Service duties aboard the USCGC Mackinaw during Admiral Zukunft’s visit for the U.S. / Canadian Summit on the environment and commerce.

OR express


Auxiliary Public Affairs


Every year the Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Directorate has a contest to celebrate the best examples of our work. Each year I am amazed at the quality and originality of our members who produce this work, and this year is absolutely no exception. I want to thank all the members, Flotillas, Divisions and Districts who had a hand in creating these entries and I appreciate your submitting them for the PA Awards. - Rich Mihalcik, Director of Public Affairs


– Coast Guard Active Duty and Auxiliary aviators share laughter and stories during the second annual Auxiliary Aviation Dining Out. The Fellowship social was attended by Coast Guard and Auxiliary aviators from across District 7 during DTRAIN. As a cornerstone of the Auxiliary, fellowship among our members is critical to mission’s success. Though our missions are not focused about the social aspect of being together, finding time after the fact to build friendships are key, many of which will last a lifetime. CG Auxiliary photo by Robert A. Fabich, Sr.


– Coast Guard Auxiliary Color Guard stand ready at the District FifthNorthern DTRAIN immediately preceding the formal dinner. Service to our membership goes beyond job performance. Being a part of a color guard at function is one example of how our members continue to support the Auxiliary each and every day. CG Auxiliary photo by Barbara Sama



OPERATIONS – Betty Hagan prepares to receive

a line from a Coast Guard crew practicing their towing evolutions in Tampa Bay. As a force multiplier for Team Coast Guard, mission support is critical. Doing so requires training and expertise to ensure that when the situation requires it, the team is Semper Paratus (always ready). This is one example where Auxiliary members train with active duty personnel to better prepare for the days ahead. The Auxiliary role will always be focused on support, and the best support is performed by those who train well and train often. CG Auxiliary photo by Valerie Fernandes


– District 7, Division 2 members man one of two Auxiliary booths at the 2017 Atlanta Boat Show in January. Like any opportunity Auxiliarists have to interact with the public, it is important to do so with pride and integity. PA booths are one way the Auxiliary performs outreach services to our communities. Doing so requires time, attention to detail, and a passion for presenting a clear and concise message. CG Auxiliary photo by Donald Hunt


EDUCATION – Auxiliary FSO Marine Safety Hall Guttormsen guides a student to understand and use marine navigation charts. Increasing numbers of recreational vessels in the U.S. are competing with each other and commercial vessels for the use of our waters. It is imperative that the recreational boater learn to read charts and navigate safely. Although new technologies can help recreational boaters navigate safely by providing electronic charts and GPS positioning information in a simple and inexpensive manner, it is the obligation of a boater who is navigating to do so by all means available, which means checking that electronic fix the old fashion way, using a nautical chart. CG Auxiliary photo by Joann McCollum

OR express

Continued on Page 26


PA Contest Winners PHOTOGRAPHY

Continued from page 25



– Conducting a VE on Marco Island Florida. Vessel safety checks serve the boating public to ensure a continued message of safety is communicated to those who own and operate water crafts and boats of all sizes. Many boaters today, both the experienced and the novice, can find the benefits from a boating safety exam. Continued dedication to the Vessel Exam program ensures that the Auxiliary interacts with the boating public in ways to help save lives and prevent injuries. CG Auxiliary photo by John Moyer


– Jennifer Goode, member of 114-10-03, Auxiliary Music DIR-A, witnesses a Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration at USCG Base, Sector San Diego with her young son. This demonstration concludes the ceremony declaring San Diego, California, an “Official Coast Guard City”. Mrs. Goode, of Mesa, Arizona, performed with the USCG Auxiliary Arizona Band as part of the ceremony with Vance as an audience member. Some 700 people were at the event with numerous dignitaries including USCG Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft and the mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer. CG Auxiliary photo by Jon Jeffery






Newsletter of District 7 ¥ United States Coast Guard Auxiliary