The Coast Guard Foundation hosted the 18th annual tribute to the Coast Guard's 7th District on Monday, October 24, 2011 at the well-appointed, historic St. Petersburg Coliseum.
The evening's program was full of honors and accolades, starting with a tribute to the Coast Guard Foundation's board chairman, Ross Roeder. Ross' term as chairman ends this year, and to thank and honor him for his service, the Foundation announced the establishment of the Ross E. Roeder Shipmate Endowment Fund, which will benefit morale and recreation projects for Coast Guard units in Northern Michigan. To date, more than $124,000 has been raised for the new endowment fund.
Foundation Chairman Ross Roeder (center) with Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp, and Vice Commandant Sally Brice-O'Hara at the St. Pete Awards Dinner Monday, October 24.
The Foundation acknowledged Chico's FAS, the Dyer Family Foundation and Mortgage Investors Corporation, in appreciation for their sponsorship of the event. All told, the dinner raised $391,000 to support programs and projects of the Coast Guard Foundation. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the awards.
The Foundation honored two cases of exceptional heroism in the 7th district, presenting awards to a boat crew from Station Lake Worth Inlet and Coast Guard Cutter Knight Island, in recognition of their response during a high-risk migrant interdiction case off of Delray Beach, Florida in June. The two crews rescued 11 people, including two small children. Of those rescued, one woman was found not breathing and without a pulse. The crew members resuscitated her, and ultimately she owes her life to the rescuers. Following her rescue, the woman spent several weeks in a coma, but was eventually released in good condition.
Moreover, she has agreed to act as a material witness in the case against the smugglers who were operating the overloaded vessel. All of the Coast Guard crew members who responded that night performed heroically. Had it not been for the actions of the rescuers, the woman would not have survived. Accepting the award at the dinner were BM2 Timmy Troyer, MK3 Samual Harville, BM2 Narcis Murguido and SN Roberto Pereira.
The second award for heroism was granted to CGNR 6604 from Air Station Savannah, and the crew of the cutter Yellowfin, for their efforts to rescue a fishing boat crew on January 8, 2011, in limited visibility due to fog and overcast ceilings approximately 90 nautical miles northeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Simultaneous with the launch of CG-6604 the Yellowfin was alerted to get underway from Charleston to assist the stricken fishing vessel. Nearly 36 hours later, after battling heavy seas and topside icing, CGC Yellowfin arrived on scene to find the F/V CJR foundering, but still afloat.
The Yellowfin placed a rescue and assistance team aboard the fishing vessel and assured its seaworthiness for towing. Enduring daunting weather conditions over the next 24 hours, CGC Yellowfin's crew recovered and towed the fishing vessel to the security of Winyan Bay, South Carolina. Completing this fatiguing four-day mission, the 13-member crew of the CGC Yellowfin succeeded in protecting the environment.
Accepting the award at the event in St. Petersburg were LCDR Jeffrey Graham, AMT2 David Mitchell, BMC Shaun Cross and MK3 John Connor.
Commandant Robert Papp (center) with the awardees of the 7th Coast Guard District.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp shared some personal notes about the awardees, helping shine a light on their character, strengths and family ties to their communities. He thanked the sponsors and donors of the Foundation for supporting his fellow shipmates, and their loyal, dedicated family members.
The event was skillfully chaired by Coast Guard Foundation board member Ed Ameen, a St. Petersburg businessman and philanthropist. Dick Crippen, senior advisor to the Tampa Bay Rays, served as the master of ceremonies. The Coast Guard Academy Glee Club Chorale performed a selection of patriotic songs, including a medley of service songs, accompanied by the Coast Guard Band's brass quintet.
This evening concluded the Foundation's calendar of events for 2011; check back soon for a complete list of honors planned for 2012.