In October 2009, the Coast Guard community was devastated by the loss of seven Coast Guard members when CG 1705 went down off of the California coast. In the wake of the tragedy, the Coast Guard Foundation moved into action and re-activated the Family Disaster Relief Fund to provide immediate assistance to the families of those seven crewmembers. Generous donors from across the country stepped forward to show their support.
Ryan White, a Coast Guard Academy graduate and public affairs officer stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters at the time, felt compelled to take action and do something to raise funds for the Family Disaster Relief Fund and show his respect for the sacrifices his fellow Coast Guard members make every day. In his off-duty time, Ryan created commemorative wristbands with the phrase, "gone but not forgotten" and distributed them to anyone who made a donation to the Coast Guard Foundation in memory of the crew of CG-1705. After ordering the first batch of 100, Ryan noted: "They kind of flew off the shelf the first day. From there it turned into a much bigger thing."
A second order of 1,150 wristbands resulted in a net donation of more than $5,500 for the Family Disaster Relief Fund by the end of 2010. In most cases, donations far exceeded the small contribution White recommended. Units, sectors and entire groups of Coast Guard men and women donated to the cause. Civilian, military and front office staff participated in the fundraiser.
What started as an effort to pay tribute to the crew of CG-1705, grew into a movement that made a real impact for the families of this tragedy, and those who find themselves in need in the future.
Anne Brengle, Coast Guard Foundation president was amazed and inspired by Ryan's efforts: "Here at the Foundation, we were impressed by Ryan's commitment to spread the word to his fellow service members, active duty and retired, and beyond into the general public. His actions made a real difference in letting the Coast Guard community know that they are supported in times of great need."