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U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members commended
for volunteer efforts in Alaska


February 26, 2004
Thursday - 12:30 am

Rear Admiral James W. Underwood, commander of the 17th District United States Coast Guard, presented the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation to the 412 members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Alaska Feb. 15.  The award, which recognized "America's Volunteer Lifesavers" for exceptionally meritorious service since August 1999, was one of many presented at the 17th District United States Coast Guard Auxiliary's annual winter statewide conference Feb 13-15.

Alaska's volunteers contributed to the nation's security by providing personnel and equipment to the Port of Valdez within hours of the 9/11 tragedies, opening and operating boat stations with Coast Guard-owned vessels in Whittier and Seward and logging nearly 1,500 hours of on-the-water time, undertaking 47 search and rescue cases and saving 12 lives.

Underwood also presented the Transportation 9-11 Ribbon to 29 Auxiliarists for "extraordinary service to the citizens of the United States" in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.  The citation was signed by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

Six Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendations were presented.  Thirteen members were recognized for participating in the multi-service winter exercise Northern Edge 2003 during the port security exercise in Valdez.  The Auxiliarists simulated potential terrorist actions that provided realistic threats to the Alyeska Marine Terminal and Coast Guard and Navy assets.

The other Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendations recognized nine Juneau members for participation in a multi-agency oil spill exercise; members of four flotillas for safety and public awareness activities at Big Lake; members from Valdez and Fairbanks for marine safety operations in Valdez; and members of six flotillas for operation of the Auxiliary stations in Whittier and Seward. 

Two new awards, named after two departing active duty Coast Guardsmen, were also presented.

The BMC David T. Borg Professional Auxiliary Coxswain Award, named for the 17th District Auxiliary's training officer, was presented to Commodore Gary Taylor of Anchorage, for outstanding achievement as the district's premiere coxswain of Coast Guard-owned, Auxiliary-operated vessels during the past 18 months. The award citation included a reference to the 321 hours Taylor donated, his evacuation of eight people from a vessel with its bilge full of gasoline, instructing in the Coxswain Academy, and intense involvement in the formation of the two stations. Taylor's dedication helped the Anchorage Flotilla earn the 2003 Buster Borhauer Memorial Award for the most activity in search and rescue.

The Lt. Cmdr. Christopher G. Honse Auxiliary Innovation Award is being named after Honse, who is retiring after a 20-year career that culminated with serving five years as Director of Auxiliary for the 17th District.  He was honored at the conference by the Auxiliarists to whom he has shown such innovation and dedication. 

The innovation award went to Michael and Noreen Folkerts of the Juneau Flotilla.  While members of the Whittier flotilla, the Folkerts served as "project engineers" to turn a derelict Alaska Railroad car into a suitable operations facility for Auxiliary Station Whittier and were otherwise instrumental in the creation of the station.  They brought visibility to the station by publishing informative reports with professional photos and started the Auxiliary personal watercraft operations program in the state.  They also promoted the image of the Auxiliary with a catchy new logo and various posters and handouts.

Mrs. Folkerts also received a Coast Guard Auxiliary Commendation Award from Underwood for outstanding achievement as District Staff Officer for Publications. The award citation noted that "through your exhaustive efforts, you have personally placed the smallest Auxiliary District on the map, bolstered the recruitment of new members and played a significant role in the success of the Auxiliary operations in Alaska."

The Juneau Flotilla earned the Flotilla Newsletter Award, with Mrs.Folkerts being honored with the Mary L. Beckham Award as editor of the best flotilla newsletter in District 17.

Another new Coast Guard award this year recognized George Leighton of the Kenai Flotilla as the 5-Star Inspector of the Year, for performing the highest number of 5-Star inspections (13) of charter fishing vessels.  Leighton also was honored with a plaque from Division 2 for performing a total of 79 exams on various types of vessels during the year.  The 5-Star Award was also presented retroactively to Michael Riley, Homer, for 2000; to Ken Ash, Sitka, for 2001; and to Clarence Smith, Juneau, for 2002.

The Seward flotilla was named meritorious flotilla and received the Commodore Hanson Award for the most overall activity per member during 2003. The flotilla also earned the Commodore Roderic S. Carpenter Memorial Award (Flotilla under 30 members) for having performed the most vessel safety examinations. 

The Commodore Parke Award went to the Juneau Flotilla for the most overall activity by a flotilla with more than 30 members.  The award this year was presented by Mary Ann Parke, daughter of Thomas Parke, who was a 29-year member of the Juneau flotilla and commodore of the 17th District Auxiliary, 1965-66.

John French, Seward Flotilla, for the second year in a row, was named Auxiliarist of the Year based on his contributions to the flotilla, the newest in District 17. 

Bob Mattson of Juneau was honored as member of the year for Division 1, which encompasses flotillas in Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau. 

Roy Stoddard of the Anchorage-based Whittier Flotilla was named the Division 2 member of the year, representing five flotillas in south central Alaska: Whittier, Seward, Homer, Kodiak and Kenai.  Stoddard also received an Auxiliary Commendation Award from the Coast Guard for his service as the Assistant District Staff Officer of Materials for Rescue and Survival Equipment during the past year.  Stoddard was instrumental in the acquisition, distribution and maintenance of $280,000 in Personal Protective Equipment for Auxiliarists in Alaska, helping protect 72 coxswains and crew as well as five personal watercraft operators from the frigid Alaskan waters.   

Noel Robinson of Fairbanks was named member of the year for Division 3, which encompasses the flotillas in Eagle River, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Valdez and Mat-Su. 

Underwood also presented several commandant letters of commendation, achievement awards and Auxiliary commendation awards.

John Whitney,  an Anchorage resident and member of the Whittier Flotilla, was given a USCG Auxiliary Commandant Letter of Commendation for developing the "Prince William Sound Kayak Assistance Guidelines for US Coast Guard Patrols."   The publication includes charts of the sound's 18 general kayak use areas and includes maps and other details that will enable rescuers to pinpoint the location of distressed mariners.

Barbara Sands, also a Whittier Flotilla member, received the USCG Auxiliary Commandant Letter of Commendation for her efforts as Auxiliary state liaison officer to the State of Alaska in 2003.  This entailed coordinating boating safety education efforts between the two organizations, developing the memorandum of understanding signed Feb. 13 between them, and serving on the Alaska Boating Safety Council.
Craig Forrest, Homer Flotilla,  Mae Leighton, Kenai Flotilla; and Marilyn Marsh, Fairbanks Flotilla received Coast Guard Auxiliary Commandant Letters of Commendation from Underwood for their efforts to review and extensively revamp the Auxiliary awards program.

Shane Taylor, Anchorage Flotilla, was another recipient of a USCG Auxiliary Commandant Letter of Commendation.  Taylor was commended for streamlining the inventory and reducing shipping costs while serving as the District Materials Officer in 2003.

Sandy Mazen of Homer received an Auxiliary Achievement Award for outstanding service onboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory from April to June 2003.  Mazen volunteered to join the crew for the historic 12,000-mile maiden voyage from Marinette, Wis., to their new homeport in Homer, earning their respect and admiration by sharing his knowledge, qualifying for a variety of underway watches and learning the various state-of-the-art systems on this new class of buoy tender.

Michael Folkerts of Juneau also received the Auxiliary Achievement Award for his contributions to the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary by working closely with personal watercraft dealers to obtain four loaner PWCs exclusively for Coast Guard Auxiliary use.  He also saw to the outfitting of the PWCs with safety equipment and expanded the number of qualified Auxiliary PWCoperators.

Mae Leighton of the Kenai Flotilla was recognized with the Auxiliary Achievement Award for her service as the 17th District rear commodore in 2002 and 2003.  She facilitated the creation of Division 3 from the then-10-flotilla Division 2 and served as a proactive and effective member of the district board.

Sue Lang of the Seward Flotilla earned the Auxiliary Achievement Award for coordinating National Safe Boating Week for the district in 2003.  Lang built a web site highlighting all the boating safety projects undertaken by the Auxiliary during the extended summer-long observance and encouraged the flotillas to reach the public with the "Boat Smart, Boat Safe, Wear It" message.

Pam Taylor, Anchorage Flotilla, received the Auxiliary Commendation Award for her achievements as the District Staff Officer of Secretary and Records, 2000-2003.  Going beyond the routine duties of the office, Taylor innovatively downloaded audio tapes, transcribed minutes and reports onto CD-ROM, saving printing costs and allowing them to be archived for future reference.   She also reformatted the log used to record motions and mentored her counterparts at the flotilla level.

Stewart Sterling, Whittier Flotilla, received the Auxiliary Commendation Award for achievements as the officer in charge of Auxiliary Station Whittier from September 2002 to December 2003.  Under his leadership, the station prosecuted six SAR cases that resulted in saving six lives and assisting three other persons.  As the OIC, he oversaw the all-volunteer search and rescue response team made up of Auxiliarists from several flotillas, logged more than 387 hours as a coxswain and crewman and saved the Coast Guard thousands of dollars by finding no-cost winter storage for the Seward and Whittier SAFE boats.

Pat Fairbanks, Anchorage Flotilla, received the Captain William S. Griswold Award for performing the greatest number of support hours to the Coast Guard in 2003, and fellow flotilla member Dean Terencio received the Jean Gebhart Award for instructing the most public education hours. 

Ivan Show of the Juneau Flotilla received the James W. Clement Memorial Award for instructing the most member training hours.  The Juneau flotilla also was honored as the Division 1 "Most Improved Flotilla" and for achieving the highest percentage of vessel safety checks per member within the division.

Beverly Gurtler, Eagle River Flotilla, earned the Howard C. Thew Award for performing the most vessel examinations.  She also received a Division 3 award for completing more than 75 vessel safety checks.  The Eagle River Flotilla, largely due to her efforts, also earned the Philis S. Smith Award (flotilla with more than 30 members) for conducting the most classes in youth education and the Commodore Roderic S. Carpenter Memorial Award (flotilla with more than 30 members) for conducting the highest number of vessel examinations.

Alan Sorum, Valdez Flotilla, received the Richard G. Goshorn Award for performing the most commercial fishing vessel examinations in 2003 and his flotilla took home the Wanda E. Jansen Memorial Award (flotilla less than 30 members) for instructing the most public education hours, as well as the Philis S. Smith Memorial Award (flotilla less than 30 members) for presenting the most classes in youth education.

Dennis Begen, Mat-Su Flotilla, received the Captain Samuel Guill Award for performing the most patrol hours as a coxswain.

Bradley Wells of the Whittier Flotilla received the Larry Wheeler Award for performing the most crew patrol hours.  Wells and his wife Linda were also honored by Division 2 for each completing five specialty courses:  Auxiliary Administration, Communications, Patrols, Seamanship and Weather).  The Whittier Flotilla as a whole was recognized by the division for completing the most operational specialty courses, with a total of 43 course completions.  The flotilla was also named as the most improved flotilla within the division.

Clarence Smith, Ketchikan Flotilla, earned the Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program Award for performing the most visits to marine dealers in 2003.

Mark Poe, Whittier Flotilla, received the Pat Kennedy Award for exemplary performance as flotilla commander in 2003 and Bob Harvey, also from the Whittier Flotilla, received the Coast Guard Administrative Support Award for donating the most administrative support to the Coast Guard.

The Fairbanks Flotilla earned the Juneau Flotilla Award for completing the highest percentage of specialty courses per member.  Two flotilla members, Jeanne Nason and Ray Miller, were recognized with Division 3 awards for completing the most specialty courses and Brian Marsh was recognized by the division for performing the highest number of member training hours.

Dennis Thaute of Homer was recognized by Division 2 for conducting the most member training hours (69) as a lead instructor in Division 2.

Other awards that recognized particular flotillas included: Whittier Flotilla:  Commodore DeLong Award for recruiting the most new members and the Wanda E. Jansen Memorial Award (flotilla more than 30 members) for instructing the most public education hours Sitka Flotilla:  The Commodore Havens Award for the highest number of new program qualifications by its members.

This year's conference focused on enhancing skills in public education, vessel examinations and vessel operations to prepare Auxiliarists to take on more responsibility for recreational boating safety while supporting other Coast Guard forces in homeland defense.  The Coast Guard Auxiliary became the largest volunteer force assigned to the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003 when the Coast Guard officially became a part of the new department.     



Source of News Release:

United States Coast Guard
Web Site


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