CELINA — Grand Lake St. Marys welcomed a new flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Friday morning with a chartering ceremony at the Celina Moose Lodge.
Flotilla Commander Larry Baker welcomed attendees to the chartering ceremony of Flotilla 12, Division 6 of District 8, Eastern Region. Baker said the new auxiliary has been “a long time coming,” as a precursor for the flotilla was established in 2003. The new flotilla will offer Grand Lake St. Marys “additional safety services to our lake,” through the local Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit, Flotilla 12, according to a news release issued by the flotilla.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by the 304th Combat Engineer Company Honor Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by Celina High School seniors Angie Fisher and Zoe Kriegel. Cmdr Juliet Hudson led the chartering ceremony for the new flotilla.
“The charter is an important document that will remain with the flotilla as long as it is in effect,” Hudson said. “Since the Coast Guard Auxiliary was formed in 1939, flotillas have served as the cornerstone of auxiliary participation and operational support. All members of the auxiliary, no matter their position in the organization, belong to a flotilla. Today Flotilla 6-12 and the 15 charter members join the ranks of more than 1,000 community-based representatives of the Coast Guard across the nation.”
Hudson installed elected officers Barry, to serve as flotilla commander, and Paul Joseph, to serve as flotilla vice commander. The two received the oath of office, led by Chief of Staff William McGonigal.
“You have offered your talents and services in the interest of a better Coast Guard Auxiliary,” McGonigal said. “The pledge you are about to take admits you to an office of greater responsibilities and high honor. Along with this honor, you must be prepared to accept certain obligations, as well as the administrative and supervisory responsibilities of your office.”
The flotilla officers were then appointed and installed by DCDR John Bentley.
Ohio Division of Watercraft Chief Rodger Norcross said he is excited for the help that the new flotilla will provide at Grand Lake St. Marys.
“It’s really exciting for us to get some help here at Grand Lake St. Marys,” he said.
He added that the partnership is crucial in Ohio, where boating is popular among residents.
“I can’t stress the importance of the partnership between us and the auxiliary,” Norcross said. “Education is so key to boating. Ohio is currently ranked 9th in the nation in boating. (There are) 426,000 registered boaters in Ohio. We have a robust boating program in the state of Ohio ... We could not do this without the help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.”
McGonigal offered three pieces of advice to the new auxiliary members as they face the challenges ahead. The first, he said, is to keep in mind why they joined the auxiliary.
“Whether it was you want to give back to boating after you enjoyed it for many years, because you enjoy helping people, because maybe you like saving lives, because you want to do community service, because you want to learn more — whatever it is, keep in mind why you joined the auxiliary to begin with,” he said.
The second piece of advice, McGonigal said, is to be proactive.
“Please do not go home and wait for somebody to call and suggest that you do something,” he said. “It may be a long time before that call comes. Reach out.”
McGonigal’s third piece of advice is to recognize what the auxiliary does. He said the auxiliary “shines” in the eye of a disaster.
“With Katrina, they pulled Coast Guard people who had never worked together before to go take on that natural disaster, and guess what, they left some problems behind,” McGonigal said. “The problem was vacancies ... Guess who filled them. It was auxiliarists.”
The auxiliary will host an open house to inform area residents about the Coast Guard Flotilla and present the services available at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Richardson-Bretz Building, 119 W. Fulton St., Celina.
For more information or to get involved in the auxiliary, call Baker at 419-268-1141.