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Coast Guard Foundation Honors Texas Crews and Former Chairman Will Jenkins in Houston

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Ron labrec web v
by Ron LaBrec
November 15, 2021

This past Veterans Day, the Coast Guard Foundation honored service members for the rescue of six people from Hurricane Delta in 2020 at the Texas Salutes the Coast Guard event in Houston.

The operation, led by Sector Houston-Galveston, involved helicopter crews from Houston and Mobile and a response boat crew from Station Galveston. The multi-unit response rescued four adults, two children, and three dogs from three fishing vessels that went aground in the Intracoastal Waterway near Gilchrist, Texas. High winds and rough seas put the grounded vessels at risk of rolling over on Oct. 9, 2020.

The quick reaction and exceptional teamwork of the responding Coast Guard crews likely averted tragedy. None of those rescued from the severe conditions had life jackets or knew how to swim.

The award was presented by Foundation Chairman Tom Allegretti and President Susan Ludwig. The award was received on behalf of the crews by Chief Aviation Survival Technician Kevin Cleary, Second Class Boatswain’s Mate David Reynolds, and Capt. Jason Smith.

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Coast Guard Chief Aviation Survival Technician Kevin Cleary (left) accepts an award from Coast Guard Foundation President Susan Ludwig and Chairman Tom Allegretti. They are accompanied by Coast Guard Eighth District Commander Rear Adm. Richard Timme, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden, Vice Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan, and Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.

The Foundation also recognized the service of its former board chairman, and Houston resident, Will Jenkins. Jenkins received the Foundation’s Distinguished Leadership Award, presented by inaugural award recipient Adm. Thad Allen, USCG (ret.). Allen served as the 23rd Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and is a member of the Foundation's board of directors.

Jenkins skillfully guided the Foundation through much of the pandemic and led the organization's new strategic growth plan that will double Foundation support to the Coast Guard in the next several years. Jenkins also established the Foundation’s annual Houston event in 2016, and it has quickly become one of its top fundraisers and celebrations of the service.

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Adm. Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.), presents former Coast Guard Foundation Chairman Will Jenkins with the Foundation's Distinguished Leadership Award at the Texas Salutes the Coast Guard event, Nov. 11, 2021, in Houston.

Coast Guard Foundation Vice Chairman Chris Johnsen described Jenkins as the quintessential leader and a terrific listener who sought broad input before making a decision. "Thousand of men and women in the Coast Guard have benefited, their lives are better, their families are better, that could not have happened without the stellar leadership of one Will Jenkins," he continued, in a video played at the event.

During his remarks Jenkins reflected on why he joined the Foundation’s board in 2009, referring to the Coast Guard as, “one part of our government that, throughout its history – from its founding in 1790 through to minute – has exceeded the high expectations that our country’s founders had when it was first established.” Jenkins concluded by saying, “for as long as there is a United States of America, there will be a U.S. Coast Guard...and as long as there is a U.S. Coast Guard the Coast Guard Foundation will be there to support those very special people who wear the uniform and their families.”

The Foundation is grateful for the more than 60 corporate and individual sponsors who supported the event and raised over $1 million dollars for programs that assist Coast Guard members and families nationwide. These include reception sponsors the Chevron Company, Conoco Phillips, Excelerate Energy, Kirby Corporation, and Quarter North Energy as well as Shield of Freedom sponsors Cheniere Energy and Will and Cathy Jenkins.

Title Photo: Coast Guard Chief Aviation Survival Technician Kevin Cleary speaks at the Coast Guard Foundation's Texas Salutes the Coast Guard event, Nov. 11, 2021, in Houston. Cleary accepted an award on behalf of Coast Guard crews that rescued six people and three dogs when their three vessels where pushed aground and in danger of capsizing during Hurricane Delta in 2020.