(Sylvan Beach, NY – Jan. 2013) Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 26 held its Change of Watch dinner Jan. 12, installing Karen Beehm of Hubbardsville as commander and William Cummings of Utica has as vice flotilla commander.
Beehm is a former vice flotilla commander and a qualified instructor who has served in a number of staff positions, including operations officer. Cummings is a former flotilla and division commander, a qualified coxswain, instructor, recreational boating safety visitor, qualification examiner, vessel examiner, assistant harbor safety specialist, and uninspected passenger vessel examiner.
A highlight of the Change of Watch was the presentation of awards to top performers, including the Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation to the search-and-rescue team of David Troutman of Rome, Robert Newton of Blossvale, Ralph Moore of Sauquoit and Mitch Ford of Utica. They were cited “for exceptionally meritorious service” from July 5 to July 6, 2012, while searching for survivors of a fatal recreational boating accident on Oneida Lake.
— Thomas Paatz of Dolgeville received the top division and flotilla operations awards for spending 68 hours patrolling Oneida Lake and assisting boaters in distress. Also honored with flotilla operations awards were Bill Cummings of Utica for 60 hours; Melaine Paatz of Dolgeville for 54 hours, David Troutman of Rome for 54 hours, Helen Lou Cummings of Utica for 45 hours, and Bonita Stilwell of Canastota for 41 hours.
— David Troutman of Rome received top division and flotilla awards for making 347 boating safety visits and conducting 21 vessel safety exams.
— Robert Stronach of Marcy was named the flotilla’s Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year for “outstanding contributions in public affairs.”
— The district commodore’s certificate of appreciation went to Vito Masi of Vernon Center, Robert Newton of Blossvale and Helen Lou Cummings of Utica for “selfless dedication of time.”
— Vito Masi of Vernon Center and Robert Stronach of Marcy were inducted into the division’s Port and Starboard Club, which honors auxiliary members “who always conscientiously carry out their duties and assignments in a quiet, efficacious and orderly manner, never expecting thanks or recognition for doing so.”
THE MERITORIOUS Team Commendation was signed by the commander of Sector Buffalo on behalf of the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The commendation reads: “During the late evening of July 5, Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 26 responded to a request from Coast Guard Station Oswego to participate in a search for survivors of a boat collision.
Flotilla Base 26 communications center quickly notified the auxiliary boat crew and coordinated flow of information to all concerned assets; to include, the Oneida County Sheriff’s department, New York State Police, the local fire department and Coast Guard Station Oswego.
The auxiliary boat crew was able to get underway in a matter of minutes from first notification and went on to expertly conduct multiple ordered search patterns during this comprehensive, multi-agency late night search operation. The team worked directly with Coast Guard Sector Buffalo and the onsite Coast Guard helicopter to search areas of concern throughout the evening and well into the next morning. The team tirelessly searched for the missing persons until the search became a recovery operation. Other agencies involved praised the auxiliary search and rescue team for their effectiveness and proficiency.
The dedication, pride and professionalism displayed by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary – Sylvan Beach Flotilla 26 Search and Rescue Team are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.”
The Coast Guard Auxiliary supports the U.S. Coast Guard and the public by patrolling the waterways, responding to boaters in distress, conducting search and rescue operations, promoting and teaching boating safety, offering free vessel exams, and providing auxiliary chefs (AuxChefs) for short tours at Coast Guard stations, on Coast Guard cutters, and at VIP events.