30 hours a week x 30 years = 46,800 hours.
That is how many hours Betty Riddle donated as a Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer at Station Fort Myers Beach over the course of her 30-year career.
“I’m figuring it’s somewhere around $1.2 to $1.4 million in manpower alone,” Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Kerner, Station Fort Myers Beach commanding officer, said in an interview with NBC in Fort Myers. “She has been a trainer and mentor to literally two generations of Coast Guard men and women.”
As a qualified communications watchstander, Riddle stood the watch answering phone calls, broadcasting radio calls and listening for maydays every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from about 6 a.m. until 4 p.m.
“Ms. Betty’s contributions to our service have directly impacted enlisted members at every level,” said Chief Petty Officer Rodolfo Moreira. “In 30 plus years of service she has stood untold hours of watch and helped certify likely hundreds of communication withstanders.”
In 1980, she was sent to Station Marathon to help with the Cuban refugee exodus called the Mariel Boatlift.
“I was put in the communications room and, from then on, I loved the radio and stayed with it,” said Riddle.
She only served a short time at Station Marathon before she continued her communications service at Station Fort Myers Beach. Her enduring presence in the watchroom became something station crews grew to adore. In fact, as she prepared for her retirement from service, the station placed a large, bronze plaque above the watchroom door naming it “The Betty Riddle Communications Center.”
“There were never two days the same; you had to stay on your toes,” said Riddle. “I would spend sometimes 10 hours a day in the radio room. The crew always recognized I was there and showed their appreciation by stopping in and saying, ‘Hi, Ms. Betty, so glad you are here today.’”
While she retired from the Coast Guard Auxiliary on February 18, Riddle will continue her community service through her church group at Community Congressional Church in Naples, Fla.
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