On Saturday, Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara addressed the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s National Training Meeting (N-Train) in St. Louis, Mo. This annual event is a time for the volunteer organization’s leaders to focus on building the competencies of its members. Classes and workshops covered topics such as effective teaching, public education, information services, flight safety, membership diversity and state liaison duties. Senior Coast Guard leaders and staff were actively involved in N-Train to ensure close alignment with the service’s programs, policies and initiatives. Most importantly, the many flag officers at N-Train signaled their support to and appreciation of this highly productive volunteer force.
Addressing members of its national board, district staff officers and directors, the vice commandant thanked the Auxiliary, noting their significant performance in 2011. “You assisted over 4,000 people and directly contributed to saving 325 lives and more than 18 million dollars in property.” Additionally, auxiliarists proved their versatility by standing communications watches, participating in exercises and providing vital interpreter services to facilitate international search and rescue coordination. There is even a contingent of Auxiliary chefs who helped host official receptions.
Brice-O’Hara recalled the tragic loss of 23 crewmembers following Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn’s collision in Tampa Bay, Fla., 32 years ago. She commended the Auxiliary’s dedication to professionalism while operating in the unpredictable maritime environment.
“You steady the service and honor our profession by ensuring you have the highest degree of readiness, that you are prepared, and that you take every action necessary to ensure you, your crews, and your shipmates stay mishap-free while accomplishing your missions,” said Brice-O’Hara.
The 29,000-member Auxiliary provides critical, cost-efficient assistance to the Coast Guard and maritime public. Its primary focus is recreational boating safety, including public education, courtesy marine exams, and air and surface patrols. Outreach has long been the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s forte, due to their regular presence in nearly every boating community in the nation. In 2011, Coast Guard auxiliarists doubled the amount of time they devoted to interacting with the maritime public.
A highlight of this N-Train was the celebration of the 2010 Coast Guard Auxiliarist of the Year, who was not available at an earlier conference to receive this prestigious recognition. Mr. Scott D. Warner of Flotilla 14 in the First District (Northern Auxiliary Region) earned this distinction for exemplary achievement. Profound respect for his shipmates and commitment to professional development are hallmarks of Warner’s service. He was cited for his outstanding effort in providing counsel and unit continuity as the ombudsman for both Coast Guard Station Southwest Harbor and Coast Guard Cutter Bridle. Most notably, he exercised superb judgment while vectoring by radio a Coast Guard rescue boat to successfully recover two persons swept out to sea.
Through N-Train 2012, the Coast Guard Auxiliary demonstrated that they are squarely aligned with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp’s principles. Their system of standardized training, qualification and certification, as well as a strong emphasis on increased proficiency, will help ensure auxiliarists perform their missions effectively and safely well into the future.