The Coast Guard Foundation was in attendance at the commissioning of the 16th fast response cutter, the Winslow Griesser, which will be stationed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Foundation Trustee Robert Montgomery presented the crew with a $5,000 gift for their morale fund during the ceremony.
In attendance were the descendants of Griesser, with four generations serving in the Coast Guard following in his footsteps.
“The commissioning was a glorious event - wonderful in every respect,” said Alice Sontag, great-granddaughter of Griesser. “I spent a good deal of the ceremony with tears in my eyes, remembering my grandfather, my mom and dad and uncles, all of whom were with us in spirit. I felt that so strongly.”
All fast response cutters are named after a Coast Guard hero with this latest vessel being named after Griesser who in 1901 was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his heroic actions rescuing crewmembers of two large boats that had broken loose from their moorings during a storm with more than 80 mile per hour gale-force winds.
Winslow W. Griesser with his Gold Lifesaving Medal and the Buffalo Life-Saving Station where he was Keeper.
According to official U.S. Coast Guard history on Griesser:
“A breaker caught the bow of the surfboat and threw it high into the air, pitching the boat end over end. Griesser and all but one of the crew were thrown out and had to swim to shore.
"Once on the beach Griesser saw that a man from one of the scows was hanging onto a pile. As use of a boat was impracticable, Griesser decided to swim out with a line accompanied by a surfman. Taking the line, the two dashed into the lake, but were thrown back onto the beach.
"A second attempt saw Griesser’s fellow lifesaver get injured and pushed back landward. Griesser, however, continued. Nearing the man on the pile, Griesser threw the line to him. He told him to fasten the line around his body and to let go of the piling. The man could only secure the line to his wrist before the waves caught him and fouled the line on the piling.
"After 15 minutes Griesser cleared the snarl and the man was pulled to the beach by those ashore. Griesser then swam to the beach. When he finally came ashore, he was so exhausted, he could not stand."