Ten Years and Counting!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team honored their Auxiliary Watchstanders in a ceremony for service spanning over 10 years. Pictured here are: Coast Guard Auxiliarists Lawrence Volz, Ellen Voorhees, Dorothy Smith, Frederick Kretsch, Carol Giroud and Dolores Verbanaz, in the back row: Active Duty Coast Guard members: LT CDR David Reinhard, CDR Richard Schultz and LT Benjamin Tuxhorn. U.S. Coast Guard photo by the Atlantic Strike Team.

In a ceremony on January 27, 2012 the USCG Atlantic Strike Team honored the hard work and dedication of a select few Coast Guard Auxiliarists.

The recent ceremony honored the rich history of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, its members’ 73 years of service to America and the 10 years of service the Auxiliary members have provided to the Atlantic Strike Team.

Article by LT Joel Ferguson, USCG Atlantic Strike Team

Since August 2001, Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers have given more than 24,000 hours of time to the National Strike Force’s Atlantic Strike Team (AST). More than 15 Auxiliarists have dedicated themselves to supporting the AST as an essential part of the team. They have managed the unit’s daily routine, tracked personnel and resources, greeted visitors, served as security and stood more than 2,500 eight-hour watches.

“They are critical to the success of the unit’s mission,” said CDR Richard Schultz, the AST’s commanding officer. “They provide life lessons and mentorship that benefit the entire crew.”

The Auxiliary watchstander program started in 2001 when three Auxiliarists volunteered to assist in the AST’s incident response center. The volunteers have been instrumental in several high profile National Strike Force pollution and natural disaster responses, including three major oil spills, a mustard gas release, and four major hurricanes. For every incident, the Auxiliary watchstanders facilitated the rapid deployment of personnel and assisted with tracking all deployed resources.

“Their efforts have greatly contributed to our success at each response,” CDR Schultz said.

The Auxiliary watchstanders took over all watch functions shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Their surge of volunteers freed active duty strike team members to deploy critical unit resources to lower Manhattan as part of the recovery and clean up efforts.

The Auxiliary watchstanders assumed the watch again in October 2001 and April 2004 when the U. S. Capitol was hit by the anthrax and ricin biological terrorist attacks. The Auxiliary watchstanders managed the deployment and tracking of strike team resources for each incident.

“Every time the AST has needed to surge resources for a critical event, the Auxiliary watchstanders have been there,” CDR Schultz said.

The April 2010 blowout of the Deepwater Horizon oil well and subsequent Spill of National Significance was no exception. As the entire Coast Guard mobilized to support the response, the Auxiliary watchstanders stood up and integrated with the AST.  CDR Schultz said the watchstanders’ phenomenal communication, coordination, resources tracking, and documentation skills allowed the AST to bring their full force of responders and oil spill cleanup gear to bear.

“I am proud to be part of the Atlantic Strike Team and the Auxiliary Watchstander program,” said Auxiliarist Ellen Voorhees, one of the original members and the Auxiliary Unit Liaison at the AST. “I’m extremely proud of the whole team.”

CDR Schultz said the Auxiliary makes contributions on a daily basis, which increases the capabilities of the Atlantic Strike Team and the National Strike Force.

“They are truly part of our team,” said CDR Schultz.


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  1. Larry Sheldon says:

    As an active, valued member of the Sandy Hook (NJ) flotilla, Dolores not only contributes as an award winning coxswain,but also as an officer of the flotilla. we too are proud of Dolores and are honored to have her as a ship mate.

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