Steven M. Conway, a retired Coast Guard commander and Academy graduate, experienced a rare thing. He was rescued by the Coast Guard in June of 2008.
A year ago I had an opportunity that hopefully very few of you will experience: I got to personally experience why you do what you do. Why you stand duty weekends, miss holidays with your families, and pound through the seas or the air for hours on end.
Steven Conway with his wife, his four daughters and his grandson one year after his rescue.
At approximately 11:30 p.m. on June 6, 2008, while underway 60 miles south of Galveston, the keel of the S/V Cynthia Woods suffered a catastrophic failure resulting in the vessel capsizing. We lost of one of the crew, the other 5 crew members ended up drifting for 26 hours until rescued by a Coast Guard aircrew.
I want to thank every Coastie who helped search for us, and all of those who stood behind them and made their success possible. I want to especially note the efforts of a few people:
- Eighth District Commander Rear Admiral Joel Whitehead, a CGA classmate, who personally kept my wife informed of what was happening and the status of the search.
- AirStation Houston and the crew that rescued us, especially then Chief (now CWO) Shannon the rescue swimmer. Boy were we glad to see him. I want to thank the CO and other senior officers that attended Roger's funeral. That was a hard but appreciated duty.
- AirStation Corpus Christi and the aircrews that located the drifting hull of the Cynthia Woods, keeping the search area nice and small.
- Sector Houston-Galveston who over saw the search and Captain Diehl and CDR Gatlin who personally monitored the search and made sure the families of the Cynthia Woods crew were kept informed of the status of the search.
- CGC Man-a-War. They were underway and on scene quickly and their search pattern was closing in on us when the helo crew spotted us.
These folks are only a small part of the Coast Guard family, but I understand and feel great gratitude for every seaman, cook, MK, yeoman, chief, officer, civilian employee, reservist, auxiliary member and sailor in the U.S. Coast Guard whose actions every day made the kind of miracle that saved my life possible.
After our rescue, one of the guys onboard the Cynthia Woods graduated from Texas A&M University. While talking with him and his parents, they expressed the special joy of this being possible. They thank you, too.
Here's what kept me going while we drifted in the water last summer and what I came back for my wife, four daughters and, at the time, an unborn grandson.
Last week one of my daughters out of the blue said, "Dad we may not say this often but we're really glad you're alive."
Well, I am too. Life is wonderful. Being able to be with my family in this photo one year later and to hold my grandson is more special that you can ever imagine.
Coast Guard Shipmates, I salute you. Please share my thanks with your shipmates and families.