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Coast Guard Auxiliary Names New Officers in Annual Ceremony

Dec. 9, 2007 — "Our volunteers really love to help people, oh man they love it, and to be able to save a life — well, there's no better feeling than that," Bill Dunne, a former Coast Guard Auxiliary captain, said Saturday, as members of the group gathered on St. Thomas to celebrate their accomplishments and conduct the traditional, annual changing-of-the-watch ceremonies.
For the past 30 years, the territory's Coast Guard Auxiliary — a group of nearly 100 volunteers from all walks of life — have provided much assistance to the local community by conducting outreach programs, boating safety checks and search and rescue missions. However, their work often goes unnoticed, many of the members say, since much of the community doesn't even know they exist.
But that doesn't stop the group from continuing their work, which augments the services provided by the territory's active Coast Guard detachment. Gathering at the Carib Beach Resort over the weekend, auxiliary members shared laughter, a few tears, and a whole lot of memories about missions past and present. Closing out the day, the group also picked new officers, the "changing of the watch."
Setting the mood for the ceremonies, Dunne gave a brief history of the guard's auxiliary force, which he said was started by Congress in 1939 and consists of thousands of individuals who are always "ready to help."
Since the auxiliary's establishment, the number of members throughout the nation has continued to grow, with the seventh district — consisting of South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — boasting upwards of 5,000 members.
"That's the biggest in the nation," said Steve Hanson, the district's former auxiliary assistant director. "And these people are great — they volunteer their time and energy, travel for us, do a lot of community outreach and contribute a variety of different skill sets that we can tap into. We have everyone from computer technicians, pilots, boat captains and professional football players, so there's a lot of talent in the auxiliary."
Auxiliary members throughout the nation total upwards of 27,000, said Art Snyder, representing the Coast Guard's Air Station Borinquen, located in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
"This year, the members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary responded to 3,897 calls for help, and in doing so saved 176 lives," Snyder said. "5,568 people in distress were also helped, and $37 million worth of property was saved because of the efforts of the auxiliary."
Auxiliary members also range in age, said the territory's new vice-captain, James "CC" Kreglo.
"When the German U-boats were approaching the American coast, we realized that we had no protection agent," he explained. "That's when the auxiliary was created, and our mission was to get our boats out there and look for the subs.
"Right now, our primary duties are teaching about boating safety, doing vessel inspections and conducting search and rescue missions for the Coast Guard. In the territory, our two biggest events are boating safety week, which happens in May, and this — the changing of the watch."
Kreglo was greeted with enormous applause and a standing ovation after he was sworn in as the territory's vice captain, a position that he described as "sort of a chief of staff" to the territory's captain, who is in charge of all local auxiliary members.
Picked to head up the auxiliary this year was Duane Minton, an algebra teacher at the St. Croix Country Day School. Speaking after the ceremony, Milton said the day was particularly special for him, since he had once served as Carib Beach's manager.
"I first came down here on sabbatical in 2000 and stayed here at Carib Beach," he said. "I mentioned to someone that I was looking for a long-term place that I could afford, and he asked me if I was looking for a job as well. I thought it was something like busing tables or something, and I thought, well it would be nice to have a little extra income. But he said that the hotel was looking for a manager, so I took the job and was manager for a year."
Minton said he was inspired to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and saw what volunteer work could do to help turn around a community.
"I'm really glad I joined," he said. "At school, we always require that our students do community service, and in my position with the auxiliary, I'm able to serve as a role model for them. I've also met people here that I would not have met had I not joined, and that would have been a shame, because I really enjoy their company."
Minton said his goal for the next year is to increase recruitment — a goal that is also shared by Kreglo.
"Right now we have about 41 members in the St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island district, and about the same amount on St. Croix," Kreglo said. "While we've added about eight new members this year, we're really looking for more people to join, and get involved with the community, particularly those individuals with boats or aircraft that could help us when we're on the water, or doing search and rescue."
Currently, the territory's auxiliary is the only group in the seventh district with its own helicopter.
Other officers sworn in over the weekend were Lee Elvins, flotilla commander for St. Croix's division seven, and John Melucci, who will serve as the flotilla commander for St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.
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Dec. 9, 2007 -- "Our volunteers really love to help people, oh man they love it, and to be able to save a life -- well, there's no better feeling than that," Bill Dunne, a former Coast Guard Auxiliary captain, said Saturday, as members of the group gathered on St. Thomas to celebrate their accomplishments and conduct the traditional, annual changing-of-the-watch ceremonies.
For the past 30 years, the territory's Coast Guard Auxiliary -- a group of nearly 100 volunteers from all walks of life -- have provided much assistance to the local community by conducting outreach programs, boating safety checks and search and rescue missions. However, their work often goes unnoticed, many of the members say, since much of the community doesn't even know they exist.
But that doesn't stop the group from continuing their work, which augments the services provided by the territory's active Coast Guard detachment. Gathering at the Carib Beach Resort over the weekend, auxiliary members shared laughter, a few tears, and a whole lot of memories about missions past and present. Closing out the day, the group also picked new officers, the "changing of the watch."
Setting the mood for the ceremonies, Dunne gave a brief history of the guard's auxiliary force, which he said was started by Congress in 1939 and consists of thousands of individuals who are always "ready to help."
Since the auxiliary's establishment, the number of members throughout the nation has continued to grow, with the seventh district -- consisting of South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands -- boasting upwards of 5,000 members.
"That's the biggest in the nation," said Steve Hanson, the district's former auxiliary assistant director. "And these people are great -- they volunteer their time and energy, travel for us, do a lot of community outreach and contribute a variety of different skill sets that we can tap into. We have everyone from computer technicians, pilots, boat captains and professional football players, so there's a lot of talent in the auxiliary."
Auxiliary members throughout the nation total upwards of 27,000, said Art Snyder, representing the Coast Guard's Air Station Borinquen, located in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
"This year, the members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary responded to 3,897 calls for help, and in doing so saved 176 lives," Snyder said. "5,568 people in distress were also helped, and $37 million worth of property was saved because of the efforts of the auxiliary."
Auxiliary members also range in age, said the territory's new vice-captain, James "CC" Kreglo.
"When the German U-boats were approaching the American coast, we realized that we had no protection agent," he explained. "That's when the auxiliary was created, and our mission was to get our boats out there and look for the subs.
"Right now, our primary duties are teaching about boating safety, doing vessel inspections and conducting search and rescue missions for the Coast Guard. In the territory, our two biggest events are boating safety week, which happens in May, and this -- the changing of the watch."
Kreglo was greeted with enormous applause and a standing ovation after he was sworn in as the territory's vice captain, a position that he described as "sort of a chief of staff" to the territory's captain, who is in charge of all local auxiliary members.
Picked to head up the auxiliary this year was Duane Minton, an algebra teacher at the St. Croix Country Day School. Speaking after the ceremony, Milton said the day was particularly special for him, since he had once served as Carib Beach's manager.
"I first came down here on sabbatical in 2000 and stayed here at Carib Beach," he said. "I mentioned to someone that I was looking for a long-term place that I could afford, and he asked me if I was looking for a job as well. I thought it was something like busing tables or something, and I thought, well it would be nice to have a little extra income. But he said that the hotel was looking for a manager, so I took the job and was manager for a year."
Minton said he was inspired to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and saw what volunteer work could do to help turn around a community.
"I'm really glad I joined," he said. "At school, we always require that our students do community service, and in my position with the auxiliary, I'm able to serve as a role model for them. I've also met people here that I would not have met had I not joined, and that would have been a shame, because I really enjoy their company."
Minton said his goal for the next year is to increase recruitment -- a goal that is also shared by Kreglo.
"Right now we have about 41 members in the St. Thomas-St. John-Water Island district, and about the same amount on St. Croix," Kreglo said. "While we've added about eight new members this year, we're really looking for more people to join, and get involved with the community, particularly those individuals with boats or aircraft that could help us when we're on the water, or doing search and rescue."
Currently, the territory's auxiliary is the only group in the seventh district with its own helicopter.
Other officers sworn in over the weekend were Lee Elvins, flotilla commander for St. Croix's division seven, and John Melucci, who will serve as the flotilla commander for St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.