As some North Carolinians were returning to their homes and recovering from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, a new storm was tracking towards the East Coast. On Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, at 7:15 a.m., Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 mph. However, the flooding associated with Florence would prove more devastating than just hurricane-force winds. Hurricane Florence dropped more than 33 inches of rain in portions of North Carolina, causing widespread destruction that people could never have imagined.
Today marks the golden anniversary of the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable’s service in the Coast Guard. Over its distinguished 50 years of service, the cutter and its crews have earned countless honors and awards for law enforcement, living marine resources, search and rescue and humanitarian missions they have conducted.
Lt. j.g. Aaron Black answered the call for help when a shipmate he had only met once asked for help after Hurricane Michael tore through his neighborhood outside Panama City Beach, Florida. Black and other officers from Coast Guard flight school in Pensacola brought tools, fuel, water and food, and helped patch four roofs, cleared debris and damaged trees from the roads and yards. Black and his team’s selfless acts and tireless dedication made a true impact to his shipmate and others in the neighborhood.
In July, Oliver Berry’s crew set a new milestone by deploying over the horizon to the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The 4,400 nautical mile trip marked marking the furthest deployment of an FRC to date for the Coast Guard and is the first deployment of its kind in the Pacific.
In 1790, Alexander Hamilton established a small fleet of coastal law enforcement vessels to patrol off East Coast seaports. Over the next 228 years, the service experienced rapid growth in its geographic area of responsibility, mandated missions, and organization through mergers with other maritime services, reorganizations, and transfers from one federal agency to another. These frequent changes demanded remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness of the Coast Guard. The service has lived-up to its motto Semper Paratus by adapting and evolving to meet the nation’s changing needs emerging as a global responder known and respected at home and abroad.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Marilyn Dufrat was awarded the Unsung Hero Award from Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring at the attorney general’s office in Richmond, Virginia, on April 12, 2018. Dufrat has been the manager of the victim-support program for the last 16 years. Her staff offers information and services to victims and witnesses with the goal of reducing confusion during what can be a complicated, lengthy ordeal.
Helping others and saving lives is what being a member of the Coast Guard is all about. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, Lt. Davey Connor deployed from Sector Jacksonville to assist in relief efforts. Between shifts, Connor made it his personal mission to help save as many homeless dogs left in the wake of the hurricane.
When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashlee Leppert was one of the first aircrew members to deploy amidst raging winds and rising floodwaters. For her rescue efforts, President Donald Trump recognized Leppert and the hundreds of other Coast Guard members who responded to the hurricane at his 2018 State of the Union address.
In its 35 years of service, Coast Guard Cutter Bear and its crews have valiantly service the nation providing humanitarian aid, drug and immigration enforcement, and search and rescue. Through it all, Bear’s most defining achievement is sharing the knowledge that there is no stronger bond than that shared by the crew. Bear crews define themselves as “first in fleet, and second to none.”
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James is the recipient of the Capt. Hopley Yeaton Outstanding Cutter Award for their unbreakable resilience in not only breathing life into the steel of the ship, but by building James into one of the Coast Guard’s greatest assets in counter-narcotic operations. In only two patrols, James and its crew interdicted 22 drug smuggling vessels, seized 16,815 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $560 million, and apprehended 70 suspected narcotics traffickers.