2017 Pacific Northwest Awards Recap
The 2017 Pacific Northwest Awards was held on September 13 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle to honor Coast Guard heroics and mission excellence from throughout Washington and Oregon to Alaska and beyond.
The evening recognized the crew of the Motor Life Boat Invincible of Station Grays Harbor based in Westport, Washington. The evening saw the crew reunited with the man they rescued during a dangerous nighttime rescue in October 2016. For their exceptional courage and skill, BMC Brant Soderlund, BMC Jeremy Culican, BM2 Jacob Hylkema, and MK1 Kevin Trapp received the Coast Guard Foundation Award for Heroic Action.
“Approximately around midnight I was just getting ready to cross the bar, it was so dark I couldn’t see anything, and then the ferocious winds hit disabling my sail,” said Awele Ndili, recalling the rescue. “At that point the Coast Guard team started making their way out, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to see that green and red light coming out of the darkness - I want to thank this team from the very bottom of my heart.”
“On behalf of the crew I would like to thank two groups of people,” said BMC Jeremy Culican, accepting the Coast Guard Foundation Award for Heroic Action. “First of all the Coast Guard Foundation - you do a lot for us, and on a daily basis you touch the lives of the Coast Guard men and women. For the second group, I would like to thank, our families.”
That night the crew and their families were sat at home watching The Finest Hours while they were on standby before Awele Ndili vessel was disabled and they were called out to rescue him. “Imagine watching that movie and as soon as it ends your phone rings, and as you walk out the door you’re trying to explain to your family that it’s not as bad as the movie conveys, but at the same time your kids are crying as you’re walking out the door,” said BMC Culican.
“It’s that moment when you look back and you realize how much stress you put on your family; the sacrifices that our family make so we can go out and do the job. If it wasn’t for the continued support of our families, none of us here would be here tonight.”
Local newscaster Brad Goode served as master of ceremonies and auctioneer, with over $100,000 raised at the auction to support the Foundation’s programs and Disaster Relief and Response Fund.
The evening also honored Stein Kruse of Holland America Group and Carnival UK, and Steve Scalzo of Scalzo Marine Services, LLC for their continued support of the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest region and raising millions of dollars to support the Foundation over many years.
Commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District Rear Admiral David Throop and Vice Admiral Charles D. Michel shared remarks about the mission and work of Coast Guard members in the Pacific Northwest, and the service’s response to Hurricane Harvey and Irma.
“The average person may not know much about all that the Coast Guard does, they may only hear about us when major disasters strike, but what our men and women do day in and day out has an impact on every single citizen,” said Admiral Michel. “It is these men and women, these selfless servants, that the Coast Guard Foundation supports - not only in times of disaster but year around.”