Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coast Guard Auxiliary Brings Safety to Boaters on the Missouri River

The Coast Guard Auxiliary brought safety to the Missouri River Sunday towing a disabled boat to safety, and then helping a local boater learn about boating safety.

On a routine safety patrol on the Missouri River near downtown Omaha, a Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol boat discovered a boater and his family, drifting down river in a boat without power. The disabled boat would not start and was drifting towards a wing dike, positioned rocks in the river used to control the current of the river.

Coast Guard Auxiliary members Frank Reiss, Doug Jansen and Phil Patterson came to their rescue. The Coast Guard Auxiliary crew, in their authorized patrol boat, threw a line to the disabled boat and towed the stranded family's boat to safety.

"Had my crew not been there on patrol to help them," said Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer Frank Reiss of Omaha, "The disabled boat could have run into the wing dike, further damaging the boat, and injuring the people on board."

The Coast Guard Auxiliary crew secured the disabled vessel at a local marina with the assistance of a local boater. The local boater expressed interest in a receiving a Vessel Safety Check on his boat, from the Coast Guard Auxilarists.

Vessel Safety Checks are conducted by qualified members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. This is a way for boaters to have their boating equipment inspected, insuring compliance with Federal and State regulations. These examinations also provide learning about problems that might be in violation of the laws, and provide the boating public with additional safety tips that could possibly mitigate or eliminate preventable danger on the water.

Frank Reiss conducted a Vessel Safety Check for the local boater and was able to explain various safety features on his boat.

A Coast Guard Auxiliary rescue boat tows a boat that was in distress to a safe location on the Missouri River on June 21st.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Doug Jansen)

Coast Guard Auxilarist Frank Reiss conducts a Vessel Safety Check for a boat owner at the Sandpiper Marina in Omaha. The Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts these voluntary checks so that boaters know what safety equipment they need to go on the water safely.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Doug Jansen)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

70TH Anniversary of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Admiral Thad Allen
Coast Guard Commandant
(U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

June 23, 2009, is a significant date for the Coast Guard as it will mark our Auxiliary’s 70th year of dedicated service to the nation. We take tremendous pride in calling these volunteer guardians our shipmates, knowing that their selfless devotion to duty and unwavering pride have given us invaluable support throughout our daily routines and greatest challenges.

For seven decades, Auxilarists have nobly offered their time, efforts and resources to support the Coast Guard. Specifically during the past ten years, a period of unprecedented challenge to our national safety, security and spirit, Auxiliary contributions have been staggering in their breadth and scope. These undaunted volunteers have performed over 1.2 million recreational and commercial fishing vessel safety checks, over 980 thousand hours of boating safety course instruction, and more than 7.7 million hours of operational support and patrol missions. The costs of such performance have also been overwhelmingly borne by Auxilarists as they have logged over 23.7 million hours of staff work, travel, preparation, training, and self-administration. This has all been unselfishly delivered as Auxilarists have stood side by side with their Coast Guard counterparts to confront and overcome a roll call of challenges: Y2K, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and many other natural and man-made disasters.

The Auxiliary continues to align itself with the Coast Guard, modernizing its organization across all Sectors, Districts, and Headquarters Directorates to shape optimal support of Coast Guard missions today and into the future. Moreover, the Auxiliary has gained even greater headway as it has progressively broadened its ability to comprehensively address more and more non-traditional mission areas such as interpreter, vessel documentation, legal, and health services support. I greatly admire the organizational courage and determination of all Auxilarists as we make our final approach on achieving a fully modernized and integrated Coast Guard.

Auxiliary performance has been nothing short of stellar, and its greatest impacts are readily reflected by Auxilarists spirit of patriotism and dedication to the Coast Guard men and women with whom they service. I therefore intend to duly recognize the Auxiliary with an award of the Coast Guard Unit Commendation as part of its 70th Anniversary Celebration at Coast Guard Headquarters on June 23. Please join me in setting aside time to recognize the exceptional honor, respect, and devotion to duty so consistently displayed by our Coast Guard Auxilarists, and thank them for their service.

Admiral Thad Allen

Auxiliary's 70th Anniversary

On June 23, 1939, Congress established the Coast Guard Reserve, a volunteer civilian organization, to promote boating safety and to facilitate Coast Guard operations. Initially, members conducted safety and security patrols and helped enforce the provisions of the 1940 Federal Boating and Espionage Acts. In February 1941, the Coast Guard military reserve was established and the volunteers renamed the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

As the U.S. entered World War II, recruits flooded Auxiliary flotillas in a burst of patriotic fever. In 1942, some 50,000 Auxiliarists became the core of the Temporary Reserve performing coastal defense and search and rescue duties, patrolling bridges, factories, docks, and beaches. They fought fires, made arrests, guided naval vessels, and conducted anti-submarine warfare. As their ranks grew, thousands of active duty Coast Guard personnel were freed for service overseas.

By 1950, the four Auxiliary cornerstone missions - public education, operations, vessel examination, and fellowship were established. In 1996, legislation expanded the Auxiliary’s scope to allow members to assist in any Coast Guard mission authorized by the Commandant. The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the world’s largest volunteer marine safety organization, has kindled and interest in to create similar groups in other countries. Today, Auxiliarists can be found examining commercial fishing vessels; flying in C-130’s, working in Coast Guard offices, and crewing with regulars. Active Duty, Reservists, Civilian Employees, Retirees and Auxiliarists,–truly constitute TEAM COAST GUARD.

Auxiliarists have a great deal to be proud of. Over the past ten years, Auxiliary members have:

  • Contributed 44,417,850 hours
  • Taught 1,678,946 people with 980,000 hours of classroom work.
  • Spent over 869,000 hours in community relations and media events
  • Conducted 1,170,535 Vessel safety Checks (VSCs) over 579,000 hours, including more than 167,000 first time VSCs and over 158,000 high risk VSCs
  • Made over 418,000 visits Recreational Boating Safety Program Visits spending more than 279,000 mission hours
  • Served 4,297,312 hours underway on safety patrols
  • Worked 56,188 hours on 25,377 missions, verifying 138,867 ATONs
  • Spent over 19,475,000 hours on administrative tasks
  • Examined over 10,223 Commercial Fishing Vessels
  • Provided 1,587,646 hours of Coast Guard Operational Support on over 197,000 Support missions
  • Supported the Coast Guard administratively with 770,554 hours & 115,292 missions
  • Trained over 1,125,019 hours
  • Performed Search and Rescue for over 723,000 hours, resulting in 5,083 lives saved, 141,980 persons assisted, & $1,460,055,940 in property saved.
  • Recruited for The Coast Guard Academy, Active Duty & Reserve Officer and
  • Enlisted programs for over 105,000 hours
  • Spent more than 700,000 hours on Marine Safety and Environmental Protection Missions
  • Contributed more than 22,000 hours in medical support to the Coast Guard
  • Worked more than 39,000 hours in the International arena
  • Consulted with state legislatures for over 5,483 hours

    Since 1999, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has participated in events, including but not limited to:

  • OPSail 2000 & USCGC Eagle visits to U.S. ports
  • 9/11 attacks response
  • Hurricanes Charlie, Rita, Katrina, Ike
  • The California Delta Whale Rescue
  • Several oil spills in the gulf coast, Alaska and in California.
  • Annual support for AIM week(s) at the USCGA
  • Annual support for the International Boating and Water Sports Symposia
  • National Association of State Boating law Administrators events
  • Boating Safety Advisory Council
  • Training various waterborne police agencies
  • Support the Coast Guard with Interpreters throughout the world
  • Support as Chefs on CG vessels and stations.
  • Augmenting by Auxiliary Health Professionals at Coast Guard clinics.

We provide the biggest bang for the buck for the American taxpayer. Each of us should take pride in knowing that we are special group, making a unique contribution to the Coast Guard and our Nation. Thank you for your service.

Happy Birthday and Semper Paratus.

COMO Nicholas Kerigan
National Commodore
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

The Multi Mission

Auxilarist Frank Reiss conducts a Vessel Safety Check for a boater
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Doug Jansen)

Auxilarists Norma Newton (left) and Wendy Faganel (right)
conduct a stern tow during a patrol
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by John Halbrook)

Flotilla 4 has a lot of members who are relatively new to the Auxiliary. They bring with them a variety of business, public safety and volunteer coordination back grounds. As many of us have learned about the Auxiliary, we have become very surprised at how such an organized and coordinated program had been so disconnected.

When many of us joined the flotilla, boating safety classes were considered separate from, and in no way related to vessel safety checks, which were not related to marine dealer visits or safety patrols. Reading the manual, and going through the training you would have thought that no one had ever pulled these unique programs together. Certainly other flotillas and divisions across the country have done similar, but since no one in our area had approached these programs as a coordinated effort we will pass along the concept of the “multi mission”.

Multi missions are a Flotilla 4 concept that has helped us to optimize our time, energy and experience to ensure that we are doing the most good for our boating safety community. This plan allows each discipline to feed the others.

Prior to the start of our operational day, our Program Visitors will visit marine dealers in the area to make sure that they have boating safety materials available for the weekend. We converse with our boating safety partners about upcoming classes and at what ramps we intend to do Vessel Safety Checks at that day. That way when customers come in, the boating partner can chat up our upcoming classes and safety checks.

The Vessel Examiner is in many cases the public’s first encounter with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. In our relatively land-locked area, most of our recreational boating takes place on federal reservoirs or inland rivers. These waterways have limited access points. During busy periods, specifically holidays and weekends, our Vessel Examiners set up displays and actively offer Vessel Safety Checks (VSCs) at ramps and marinas. While conducting VSCs a few things take place.

First, we record the boaters contact information. If interested, we put the boat owner on our e-mail list for notification of future VSCs and upcoming boating safety classes. This gives us a focused marketing avenue for boater safety and education programs. As an additional incentive we are able to offer those that register with us, in a drawing for an access pass to the federal reservoirs for the following year.

Second, if the boater does not have all of the equipment to pass the VSC, we offer them information on retailers who have agreed to give discounts to customers who show that they are purchasing equipment to make their vessel compliant. This encourages the boater to correct those deficiencies and be a safer vessel on the water.

With active VSC at the boat ramps our patrol presence on the water conducts a standard safety patrol. What’s nice about the integration between VE’s and boat crews is the chance for multiple Auxiliarists to spend time getting VSCs done and patrol hours under their belt. A well coordinated afternoon can help maximize efficiency.

Finally, we have communications. Setting up a temporary Auxiliary communications station allows all of these elements to work together. The Vessel Examiners can provide eyes on the water for the patrol, and the patrol can let the VE’s know which ramps are active.

When all three components work together, the general public hears us on the marine radio, they see us on the water, and they interact with us on the shore. If all three of these encounters are positive we can build an excellent program for the Auxiliary.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Eighth Coast Guard District Command Cadre Discuss Command Philosopy

The new Eighth Coast Guard District Command Cadre have created a video message to all of the members of the Eighth District to discuss their command philosophy:

The Eighth Coast Guard District Command Cadre, (from left), Master Chief Petty Officer Lloyd Pierce, Eighth District command master chief, Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District and Capt. James Tunstall, Eighth District chief of staff, discuss the command's philosophy, Tuesday, June 9, 2009.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Who's Jealous of Doug?

A Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter Lands at Air Station San Diego
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Doug Jansen)

If you have been following our Flotilla4 blog, Facebook feed, or Twitter profile you know that Doug Jansen is attending the AUX-12 Public Affairs C-School in San Diego. This trip has been completely coordinated by the active duty Coast Guard.

What Does the Active Duty Coast Guard Think of its Auxiliary?

One of the most common questions associated with being involved in the volunteer Auxiliary involves the treatment of volunteers. Does the active duty component support, respect, and most importantly appreciate its Auxiliary? The Coast Guard is very unique in this regard. Not only are Auxiliary members given the chance to directly support the active duty, they are given real jobs to do and their work is acknowledged.

Doug Jansen of Flotilla 4 is in San Diego this week attending Public Affairs C-School. While there, Doug found that the volunteers get their own reserved parking space.

Check it out...

(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Doug Jansen)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Travis Daniels Talks About The Auxiliary on Mac's World Live

Auxilarist Travis Daniels (left) talks about the Coast Guard Auxiliary with
host, Rooster McRoberts (right).
(Photo Courtesy of Mac’s World Live)

Today our Flotilla Commander, Travis Daniels, was able to spend an hour on Mac's World Live talking about the Coast Guard Auxiliary. During the program the video and audio was broadcast live on the internet while he spoke with hosts J. Michael McKoy and Rooster McRoberts.

The primary conversation was between Rooster and Travis, who discussed how Rooster’s boat had been disabled at Saylorville Lake and Travis and his boat crew helped to tow Rooster and his family in to safety. Rooster had been previously unaware of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and was very interested in who the Auxiliary is and what it is that we do.

Mac’s World Live is a local, daily Internet radio show broadcast live Monday through Friday on Podcasts of the show can be found at

Social Media, 175+ Tweets, 100+ followers and 1 Commandant

Less than a year ago Flotilla 4 embarked into the world of Social Media feet first following the lead of Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google Calendar and Blogger, just to name a few, have been our applications of choice.

After trial and error we have been pleased to have grown quite a following through these outlets. So what have we done?

With Facebook we were able to begin social networking and communications between flotilla members with various members of the public. We have been socializing to build fellowship in our flotilla on Facebook and it has been a very important part to our growth. We generated a Flotilla 4 page that ties in to our news blog, Twitter feed, Flickr account and Google Calendar. This page allows other Facebook users to find us and get a source of information on the flotilla.

Blogger was somewhat familiar to us before we implemented it. We decided to use it as a virtual news area to keep our members and the public up to date between publishings of our traditional newsletter "Above Board." Our news blog also links in to various RSS feeds from Coast Guard sources, our Flickr photostream and our Twitter feed. It automatically publishes new posts to our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Flickr has allowed us to create our own visual imagery location on the web to let Auxilarists and the public see what the Land-Locked Auxies of Flotilla 4 are up to. By tagging our photos, it has enabled search engines to help people find us quicker. The Flickr photostream feeds the front of our static website at with pictures and also feeds our Facebook page.

Google Calendar was implemented to let us display our calendar in an organized fashion. We have a layered calendar that displays our public education and general flotilla activities with information including mapping. It is publicly searchable and we have used it to advertise our Public Education Courses. It feeds into our Facebook page as well.

Twitter was a big mystery when we started. Initially we couldn't find any Auxiliary presence to speak of on Twitter but we jumped in. Now we have over 100 followers, including Admiral Thad Allen (we are just one of a little over 50 people that he follows), and we have posted over 170 updates. We are able to update our Facebook page status via Twitter and "Tweet" from the field in real time regarding the happenings of the flotilla.

Finally, we did a complete overhaul on our static page at A new design, a new feel, and integration with our social media applications have helped us to increase our presence. We utilize Google Analytics to track our viewers and see what it is about our site that they are interested in and how they found us.

It has been an exciting first year into Social Media for our flotilla. Thanks to Auxilarists John Halbrook, Trevor Henderson and Doug Jansen for spearheading this project and helping to put Flotilla 4 on the Social Media map.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Despite Bad Weather, 15 People Complete Safe Boating Course

Auxilarists Jeff Towle (left), Norma Newton (center) and Ralph Tomlinson (right) speak with students during the Safe Boating Course at Lake Red Rock.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Suzanne Tomlinson)

Severe weather warnings did not deter 15 future mariners from attending the State of Iowa Safe Boating Course taught by members of Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 4.The class was held at the Lake Red Rock Visitors Center near Pella.

The class covered topics that included navigation rules, fueling, trailering, Iowa boating laws, the proper wearing of life jackets and the handling of boating emergencies. By completing the course, students earned the Iowa DNR Safe Boating Card.

Under the guidance and leadership of Auxilarists Norma Newton and Jeff Towle, all 15 future boaters passed the final exam.
Meanwhile, Auxilarists Ralph and Suzanne Tomlinson conducted voluntary Vessel Safety Checks at Lake Red Rock for local boaters. Despite a very poor forecast, six vessels were inspected by the duo.

Auxilarist Ralph Tomlinson (left) prepares to inspect a PWC at Lake Red Rock.
(U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Photo by Suzanne Tomlinson)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jansen Selected for AUX-12 Auxiliary Public Affairs C School

Auxilarist Doug Jansen, Flotilla Staff Officer for Public Affairs, has been selected to attend the Auxiliary Public Affairs C School at Coast Guard Air Station San Diego.

AUX-12 Auxiliary Public Affairs C School is basic training for Auxiliary Public Affairs officers. The course teaches the students how to correctly prepare and distribute Press Releases, manage Media Relations, Media Interviews, Photography, Copy Editing/News writing, Article submissions to local, national level and other public affairs matters of special interest to the Auxiliary.

Auxilarist Doug Jansen serves as the Flotilla Staff Officer for Public Affairs and is responsible for public relations for Flotilla 4.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flotilla 4 Auxilarists Stand Communications Watch at AUX Station Omaha

Auxilarists Roland Newton and Trevor Henderson stood watch at AUX Station Omaha this weekend. The watchstanders maintain a communications watch with the Auxiliary Vessels on the Missouri River to relay information to Sector Upper Mississippi in St. Louis.

Auxiliary vessels were able to assist two boaters in distress and make sure that they made it back to port safely.

It was also time for some spring cleaning at the AUX Station as well as the installation of a new air conditioner for the season ahead.

Phil Patterson Becomes A Vessel Examiner

Congratulations to Phil Patterson, Flotilla 4's newest Vessel Examiner! He completed the Vessel Examiner Course and his trainee Vessel Safety Checks and has been approved by the Coast Guard to complete Vessel Safety Checks!

Monday, June 1, 2009

May 2009 Above Board Newsletter

The new edition of Above Board is available at

This month's newsletter has articles about the new boat crew qualifications, the DNR ramp painting project, vessel safety checks, and the Certificate of Recognition for our flotilla from the Iowa House of Representatives.

Thank you to all of our contributors who made this month's edition possible.

The submission deadline for Above Board is the first Friday of each month. Photos, narratives, and information is always appreciated.