The 2018 Alaska Awards Dinner, held August 14 in Anchorage at the historic Hotel Captain Cook, was at its heart, about “causes bigger than yourself”, as Admiral Karl Schultz so aptly shared during his remarks.
Coast Guard Foundation board member Wally Hickel, Jr., who first founded the Alaska Awards Dinner in 1998, was recognized for his service to the organization and the United States Coast Guard. His two decades of service were acknowledged by many in the room, including Stein Kruse, CEO of Holland America Group.
“Since you started this bi-annual Foundation dinner here in Anchorage, you and your fellow dinner committee members have raised $2 million for the Coast Guard Foundation. You have been unwavering in your commitment to the Foundation and the United States Coast Guard… You have given generously and quite simply put, the Coast Guard Foundation Alaska Awards Dinner would not be possible without you, Wally,” remarked Kruse.
In 2010, Hickel was recognized for his support of Coast Guard service members with a Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award.
After more than 20 years at the helm, Mr. Hickel is stepping aside and Ken Gill, Vice President Matson Alaska will assume the duties of dinner chairman for the next event in 2020.
The more than 400 guests were also gathered to pay tribute to the heroism and mission excellence displayed by Coast Guard members stationed here in Alaska.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, homeported in Ketchikan, was recognized for its excellence in executing its multi-pronged mission in supporting operations in Alaska, including search and rescue, community outreach and support, living marine resource protection, maritime law enforcement and national security.
Featured speakers included Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant; Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, Pacific Area Commander; Congressman Don Young; and Coast Guard Foundation president Susan Ludwig and board chairman Will Jenkins. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan participated in the evening via video, and expressed their thanks and appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Coast Guard members and their families.
NFL legend and Super Bowl MVP Larry Csonka shared his story of being rescued by the Coast Guard in 2005 in the waters off of Alaska.
“When that happens to you, that’s when you become fully aware… we all know the Coast Guard is there and does great things. Until you’ve been out there, you can’t appreciate what that means for the helicopter to come out under the clouds… When you have teamwork and unity in the NFL, you can win the Superbowl. When you have that kind of teamwork and that kind of unity in the Coast Guard, you save lives.”
“The supporters here tonight are very special… and I thank each and everyone of you for coming out here tonight. It’s truly a very special time to be in the Coast Guard. It’s great to have the Foundation telling our story and supporting our families.”