The Coast Guard Foundation hosted the 20th annual tribute to the Coast Guard 7th District on November 8th at the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the members of a Clearwater, Florida-based helicopter crew, CG-6009, were honored for heroism, dedication and aviation professionalism they displayed during a daring night-time rescue in January.
The individuals honored were Lieutenant Commander Gary Scott, Lieutenant junior grade Tyler Monez, Flight Mechanic, Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul Turner and Rescue Swimmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Salter. The crew responded to a distress call for a 170-foot research vessel Seaprobe on January 18, 2013. The crew saved the lives of seven mariners who had to abandon the sinking ship in the middle of the night, during rough seas.
The evening featured remarks from Admiral Robert J. Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard; Vice Admiral Robert Parker, Commander of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area; and Rear Admiral John Korn, Commander of the 7th District.
Colonel Mike Prendergast, United States Army (Retired), and Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs served as the night's guest speaker. Colonel Prendergast is a Tampa native and a graduate of Clearwater Central Catholic High School. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and served in a variety of command and staff positions over the course of his Army career.
Col. Prendergast spoke of the importance of caring for America's veterans, and how the Coast Guard Foundation's mission does just that.
The Foundation hosted several additional special guests that night including Dorothy Kurtz, who celebrated her 92nd birthday at the dinner. Dorothy served as a member of the Coast Guard Women's Reserve, also known as the SPARs, during World War II. We were delighted to share in Dorothy's birthday, and have her as a Foundation guest.
Also in attendance were Master Chief Eric Kalita, Command Master Chief of Jacksonville-based HITRON, and his daughter Sydney — a Coast Guard Foundation scholarship recipient and University of South Florida student, as well as Commander Bruce Melnick, USCG (Ret.), a Clearwater native, and the first Coast Guard aviator to become an astronaut.
The dinner committee was led by local businessman and Coast Guard Foundation Director, Ed Ameen. The committee also includes Florida State Representative Kathleen Peters and other local leaders and community members.
"We are honored to host this tribute to the brave members of the US Coast Guard's Seventh District who enforce maritime law, protect our homeland and preserve the environment in throughout the south; and are very happy to have such a distinguished list of speakers and guests at this year's dinner event," said Anne Brengle, president, Coast Guard Foundation. "We proudly support the Coast Guard and truly appreciate the help our donors and constituents provide so that we can continue our mission to provided education, support and relief for these heroes."