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Crews Involved in August Ocean Rescue Honored

The Coast Guard Foundation recognized Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Air Station Clearwater, Station Mayport, and the Cutter Coho.
Coast Guard members receive an award
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by Ron LaBrec
April 20, 2024

The Coast Guard Foundation’s annual Tribute to the Seventh Coast Guard District was attended by Coast Guard members, maritime and defense industry leaders, and supporters of the Coast Guard in Fort Lauderdale on April 18. It highlighted the August rescue of a 25-year-old man off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida.

Coast Guard crews rescued 25-year-old Charles Gregory, August 5, after he went missing in a small jon boat, 12 miles offshore of St. Augustine, Florida.

Search and rescue specialists at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville launched an extensive air and sea search after receiving a report from Gregory's family, August 4, that he had not return to the Lighthouse Park Boat Ramp.

The crew of a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Clearwater spotted Gregory, the following morning, sitting in his partially submerged boat. A Coast Guard Cutter Coho boat crew recovered Gregory and transferred him to a Station Mayport boat crew who transported him to EMS at Vilano Beach Fishing Pier.

Two men pose for a picture on stage
Phil Purcell, president and CEO of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, receives an award from Tom Allegretti, Coast Guard Foundation chairman, at the Tribute to the Seventh Coast Guard District event in Fort Lauderdale on April 18, 2024

The Foundation also honored Phil Purcell, CEO and President of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) for his maritime leadership, commitment to maritime safety and stewardship, and support of the non-profit community.

A visionary and motivating leader in the marine community, Purcell has led MIASF since 2014. During Purcell’s tenure MIASF has worked to support and strengthen the marine industries in the Southeast, which provide 149,000 marine jobs and an annual economic benefit of $12.5 billion to the region.

Speaker at a podium
Coast Guard Vice Commandant Admiral Steve Poulin gives the keynote address at the Tribute to the Seventh Coast Guard District event in Fort Lauderdale on April 18, 2024.

The keynote speaker, Admiral Steve Poulin, the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, said, "we are always ready to protect, defend and save the people we serve, and our Coast Guard families serve right alongside us. That’s why I am so appreciative of the Coast Guard Foundation’s work. Their contributions to the wellbeing of Coast Guard families directly enable front-line operations. What the Coast Guard Foundation does allows us to deliver mission excellence anytime, anywhere. And what they do for our families gives comfort, care, and peace when our crews are deployed.”

Susan Ludwig, president of the Coast Guard Foundation, also recognized Lieutenant Commander Duane Zitta for his volunteer support to the organization, which has raised more than $80,000 to support programs for Coast Guard members. Over the years Zitta has undertaken a variety of extreme sport challenges to raise awareness and funds, including the Keys 100 Ultra Marathon and Alaska’s 12 Peaks Challenge.

The Coast Guard Foundation would like to thank all who sponsored and attended the event, which helped raise more than $460,000 for programs that support Coast Guard members and families. Special thanks to major sponsors Total Marine Solutions, Hose-McCann Communications, King Ocean Services, Marine Industries Association of South Florida, and TOTE Group.

Couple standing
Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Duane Zitta and Michelle Zitta being recognized by Coast Guard Foundation President Susan Ludwig at the Tribute to the Seventh Coast Guard District event in Fort Lauderdale on April 18.

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