When I first joined the Board of Trustees of the Coast Guard Foundation in January 2010, I knew what the Foundation was about and what it did, however, my exposure was limited to the Washington DC, New York and New Orleans dinners, and various other receptions.
The last two and half years have given me more understanding of the depth and breadth of the Foundation's support to the men and women of the Coast Guard. In early July, I visited Sector Northern New England, which gave me personal insight into what the Foundation, the people, the funding, and our role as Trustees means to the individuals we support in the Coast Guard.
My professional life has afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively around coastal areas, visiting the Barbers Point Air Station; shedding tears at the Memorial to CG-6505; visiting Sitka Air Station in Alaska shortly after the crash of the Sitka based CG-6017; attend a Change of Command at the New Orleans Air Station; and now to visit several Coast Guard Stations in Sector Northern New England.
Since this trip was both vacation and work I was accompanied by my parents Jack and Mary Nell Roos, who, I might add, are 80 years young. We were all enriched by the opportunity to visit with so many enthusiastic young men and women along the way.
Coast Guard Foundation Trustee Judith Roos pictured with Coast Guard personnel at Station Rockland, Maine.
Our Coast Guard adventure began with the reception on July 3 aboard the Eagle at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The Silent Drill Team put on a great performance prior to the reception and we were all heartily impressed with VADM Rob Parker's bravery in being in the midst of thrown bayonets! It was heart stirring to see both the Eagle and the USS Constitution get underway on July 4th during this spectacular display of patriotism!
The reception, the people, and the whole event were a wonderful experience. I was specifically touched by Cadet 3rd Class Emma Lutton's thanks for the L-44s. Emma went on to explain that she was a part of the sailing team at the Coast Guard Academy and these boats meant so much to her and her teammates. Her story is one that should be shared since it reminds us that the development of leadership can come in many forms and the Foundation's sponsorship of the L-44 series is providing this support to the future leaders of the Coast Guard.
Our adventure continued the following Monday, July 9, with a visit to South Portland and Sector Northern New England where Captain Christopher Roberge, Sector Commander, and his Deputy, Captain Brian Gilda, greeted us and graciously spent time talking with us in their offices.
The rest of our day was spent in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at the Coast Guard Station. We met Chief David Andreeson who is the Officer in Charge of the Boat Station, and Lt. Nathaniel Robinson, who is the Commanding Officer of the Marine Safety Unit. Both of these gentlemen provided us with great tours and much information about the challenges they face on a daily basis and the various responsibilities of the Portsmouth station.
Our visit included lunch in the galley (which was delicious), a visit to the lighthouse, and the opportunity to see Boat Station personnel both at work and at play after lunch while they enjoyed games outside. On a personal note, on our drive from Portland to Portsmouth, we learned Captain Gilda hails from my hometown of Bellingham, WA!
Day two began with a visit to the Boothbay Harbor, Maine Coast Guard Station, which on that beautiful sunny day was an incredible place to be, though I'm not sure I would feel the same in the dead of winter. Master Chief David Kroll was our escort for the day and BM1 James Zerinskas, Executive Petty Officer was our host in Boothbay Harbor. After a tour of the facility, the Communications Center, and the boats, the Station's crew was called together and Chief Kroll asked if I would like to talk about the Foundation.
This off the cuff presentation gave the opportunity to share the work of the Foundation, of the people behind the Foundation – not just the professional staff members – but those who serve as Directors, Trustees, and on Dinner Committees who volunteer their time because they care about each Coast Guard individual.
The story of the many supporters who put in hours of effort to raise funds and encourage others to get involved and do more for the men and women of our United States Coast Guard is one that needs to be shared with CG personnel. This was an opportunity to tell our Coastguardsmen that they serve a vital role in our nation's security and that they have a nation of supporters behind them – in good and bad times.
Rockland, Maine was our next stop where we were greeted by our hosts Chief Sebastion Arnsdorf, CO of the Station and MK2 David Scribellito. Lunch with the crew was a delicious dish of scallop and lobster lasagna. We then had a chance to get a photo op with the Boat Station crew. Touring their fitness facility, they proudly pointed out the equipment that had been provided by the Coast Guard Foundation's Shipmate Fund. The enthusiasm, professionalism, and genuine appreciation was so rewarding for my parents and me.
Judith Roos presenting a check for new workout gear for the cutter Abbie Burgess.
A tour of the Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaker was a great way to end that portion of our visit – as a Seattle girl, I knew the Coast Guard had big ice breakers but I didn't know about the smaller ones for rivers. Lt Jerry Smith, the CO of the Thunder Bay, made their mission come alive as he described the challenges they face.
The final stop was the Buoy Tender Abbie Burgess, where I had hoped to present a check for $3,000 for the purchase of fitness equipment from the 2012 Shipmate's Fund list Well, I guess the Coast Guard mission comes before pleasure and the ship had left the previous morning.
I was subsequently rewarded with the photo of the crew of the Abbie Burgess holding the check and lots of smiles. I am sorry we didn't get a chance to tour the vessel, but happy that our visit to Rockland may have brought some sunshine to the crew when they returned back home.
I was so proud as a Trustee to find out how much the Foundation's support means to Coasties!
There were many things I learned in my two days of visits to Sector Northern New England, but the one that stands out the most are the needs of Coast Guard personnel who are located in remote locations – like Jonesport, Maine for example. Interestingly, it takes longer to drive from Portland, Maine, downeast to Jonesport than it does to drive to New York City.
There are many "Jonesports" throughout the nation that need our support. I would encourage each of you to pick a "Jonesport" or another CG station and provide your support. Just a little bit can make such a difference in their lives.