Injured turtle? Coast Guard to the rescue!

Posted January 25, 2011 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: Station Galveston

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For more than 220 years, the Coast Guard has been known as this country’s premier life saving service.  We are best known for saving human lives but from time-to-time, we come to the rescue of aquatic life needing immediate medical attention.

On Dec. 13, 2010, Coast Guard Station Galveston was requested to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Galveston laboratory in rescuing a green turtle. 

Ben Higgins, the NOAA sea turtle program manager in Galveston, explained that the Coast Guard has assisted with turtle rescue efforts in the past.

“We don’t have the capability to get on scene as quick as the Coast Guard.  As soon we called the Coast Guard they assisted us.  I don’t know what we would do with them,” said Higgins.

Initially, a good Samaritan aboard a tugboat anchored in the Houston Ship Channel called the turtle rescue hotline and reported seeing an injured turtle floating in the ship channel.  That’s when NOAA requested Coast Guard Station Galveston’s assistance, said Higgins.

A 25-foot Response Boat-Small was launched from Station Galveston to the vicinity of the Pelican Island small boat cut, within the Houston Ship Channel.  When the Coast Guard crew arrived on scene they found an injured green turtle.

Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Milmoe, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Galveston, was the coxswain aboard the small boat that was launched to rescue the turtle. 

“The crew from the towing vessel was in contact with Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston,” said Milmoe.  “The small boat I was on diverted from patrol and headed toward Pelican Cut.  The towing vessel crew had the turtle wrapped in a blanket and handed the turtle over to us,” he said.

Once the turtle was aboard the Coast Guard small boat, it was then transported back to Station Galveston to awaiting NOAA personnel. 

The turtle was observed to have an approximately 8-inch long crack on the top of its shell, most likely due to impact with a boat, said Higgins.  Upon arriving back to Station Galveston, small boat coxswain, Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Rolf, the on-duty officer-of-the-day, assisted with reviving the turtle.

“Once the turtle arrived at the station, we wrapped it in blanket and put it next to a heater until the NOAA personnel said it was ready for transport,” said Rolf. 

Once the turtle was handed over to NOAA, it was taken back to the Galveston laboratory for observation and rehabilitation.  It was determined that the turtle needed further treatment, so the NOAA staff implored the help of Dr. Joe Flannigan from the Houston Zoo.

Dr. Flannigan cleaned the shell and used pieces of metal flashing and 5-minute epoxy to create a double splint in an effort to mend the shell. 

“The double splint is made out of simple materials,” said Higgins.  “Our hope is that this splint will stabilize the shell and aide in mending.  It will stay on until it naturally falls off,” he said.

Thus far, the rehabilitation effort has been a great success.  As of early January 2011, the injured green turtle is healing nicely.  Higgins anticipates the turtle being released in late spring 2011.

“Animals are absolutely amazing in terms of healing themselves,” said Higgins.    

Story and photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Renee C. Aiello 

 

Armed Forces Bowl

Posted January 4, 2011 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: Uncategorized

DALLAS, Texas - 32,000 fans pack the Gerald J. Ford Stadium at Southern Methodist University to watch the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl between the Army Black Knights and the SMU Mustangs. Photo Illustration by Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Brahm.

Photo illustration by PA3 Richard Brahm

The Armed Forces Bowl isn’t just a football game, the meaning behind the sports event goes much deeper. The game is held in honor of the men and women who serve their country.

Now the game itself was exciting, the Army Black Knights had not played a post season game since 1996 and it wasn’t just the Army having fun this December. The 2010 season marked the first time all three service academies participated in bowl games, the Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl and the Air Force in the Independence Bowl.

Not a bad year for the military teams and their fans. The Black Knights were able to accomplish a plethora of achievements with their 16-14 win over the Southern Methodist University Mustangs to  include(facts provided by Army Knight’s game statistic book provided at the bowl):

  • Giving the Black Knights seven wins for the first time since 1996
  • End their two game losing streak
  • End their two game losing streaks in bowl games
  • Clinch their first winning season since 1996
  • Mark the 2nd time all three service academies won seven games in the same season
  • Snap a nine game losing streak in December
  • Improve their all-time bowl record to 3-2
  • Be the 649th win in the 121 seasons of Army football

Now besides a lot of sweating, screaming and cheering, what else happened at the AFB? A lot.

Members from Coast Guard Station Houston and Air Station Houston, along with multiple Auxiliarists and recruiters from Dallas all converged on the Armed Forces Adventure Zone.

Station Houston brought a 25-foot Response Boat Small and the Auxiliarists brought Coastie the Safety Boat and Officer Snook for the children.

Officer Snook had the privilege of getting on stage and dancing with Gary Sinese, guitarist for the Lt. Dan Band.

Capt. Marcus Woodring, the commanding officer of Sector Houston-Galveston, helped kick off the game by participating in the opening game coin toss.

During the half time festivities Capt. Woodring swore in more than 20 Coast Guard recruits on the field, in front of 32,000 screaming fans.

Right after the swearing in ceremony Woodring also joined with other branches of the armed forces to present a brand new custom built home to a veteran and his family.

This special holiday gift was presented by Bluegreen Communities to Army Specialist Hugo L. Gonzalez, his wife, Any, and their three daughters.

The Gonzalez family was flown in from Florida not knowing they were about receive a brand new house and they were completely caught by suprise. Dan Koscher, President and CEO of Bluegreen Communities, and Dan Wallrath, Founder of Operation Finally Home, presented the new home to the Gonzalez family.

Not only was the Gonzalez family given a brand new house, but the property taxes were paid for the first two years.

And to finish off all of the honors given to military members at the bowl was the Great American Patriot Award.

As reported by the Coast Guard Compass, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen was presented the Great American Patriot Award by Col. Tom Dials, chairman of Armed Forces Insurance, during halftime.

The award honors an American patriot who has spent a career going above and beyond the call of duty to serve and protect our country. Allen now joins the ranks with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Army Gen. David Petraeus as a recipient of the award.

Allen was recognized for his 39 years of active duty service in the Coast Guard culminating with his selection as the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard, and his willingness to continue to serve his nation as the National Incident Commander in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill after his retirement in June 2010.

Story and photos by PA3 Richard Brahm

True Volunteers

Posted December 8, 2010 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: ANT South Padre Island

Tags: , , , , ,

Aids to Navigation Team South Padre Island, located deep in southeastern Texas, proudly honors three of its own who selflessly dedicate their time as volunteer firefighters: Petty Officer 3rd Class Fabian Gonzalez, Fireman Lance Strand and Seaman Benjamin Dennard. Gonzalez, Strand and Dennard, all picutred in the above photo, are volunteer firefighters with the Laguna Vista Fire Department. Not only do they work 24 hours a day for the Coast Guard, but on their off time they are on call for the fire department.

Gonzalez, Strand and Dennard are qualified crewmen on all ANT South Padre Island platforms. Strand is a qualified engineer and Gonzalez is a qualified coxswain. Dennard is taking classes to become an emergency medical technician for the fire department which also contributes to the Coast Guard.

Every Tuesday night they have training with the Laguna Vista Fire Department where they will become Texas state certified firefighters. Although they are not yet state certified, they have enough training to work under a state certified firefighter. Strand has been to approximately 40 emergency calls, Gonzalez has been to over 70 and Dennard has been to more than 100 emergency calls to assist residents of Laguna Vista, Laguna Heights and Port Isabel.

“I joined the Laguna Vista Fire Department because I wanted to help in the community plus I get to put red and blue lights on my car,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has been stationed with ANT South Padre Island for almost two years and has been a volunteer with the fire department for almost one year. Both Strand and Dennard have been with ANT South Padre Island and fire department for one year.

“I always knew I wanted to help save lives. The Coast Guard has provided me the opportunity to do both; be a Guardian and a firefighter and now I will have my EMT certification too,” said Dennard.

On any given day, the call may come alerting volunteer firefighters that their assistance is needed. Just as with the Coast Guard, response time is of the essence: the quicker the response time, the better chance of successfully mitigating the situation.

On the evening of Nov. 29, 2010, Gonzalez, Strand and Dennard responded to a raging house fire that put their expert firefighting training to the ultimate test.

It was approximately 7 p.m., Nov. 29, and a two-story home quickly caught fire becoming fully engulfed in flames within minutes. Coast Guardsmen Gonzalez, Strand and Dennard were notified and responded to the fire, which lasted for three hours.

Gonzalez and Lance were the first to arrive on scene and took control of a fire hose. They entered the house via the front door and proceeded to combat the fire in the living room and kitchen. They were only in the house for 20 minutes when the roof started to collapse. The pair evacuated the house and continued continue fighting the fire from outside. Dennard, along with another firefighter, worked to extinguish the fire from the back of the house.

“I have been to many calls, but it was not until this last fire that I truly understood what it meant to be a firefighter. This fire was huge and the whole house became engulfed in flames so fast,” said Gonzalez.

“That house fire was the biggest structure fire I have been to. I was really worried about the houses next to it catching fire. They didn’t and I am glad no one was hurt,” said Strand.

Volunteering comes second nature to many Coast Guardsmen. Some men and women who chose the Coast Guard as a career are giving by nature; others develop the trait after experiencing the fulfillment volunteering brings to one’s life. Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Gonzales, officer-in-charge of ANT South Padre Island supports unit members who want to go out into the community and volunteer their time and energy toward a given cause.

“Their volunteer services provide the community a greater ability to respond to emergency situation while facing the potential dangers of placing themselves in harm’s way to provide assistance to others,” said Gonzales. “Their off-duty contributions allow Coast Guard members the opportunity to be highly visible within their community, thus creating a great relationship between the local community and the Coast Guard,” he said.

Additionally, Gonzalez, Strand and Dennard are involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Madre, where they coast basketball and other community activities.

Story contribution by Petty Officer 2nd Class Renee C. Aiello and Seaman Lauren Laughlin
Photograph by Seaman Lauren Laughlin

All EnCOMPASSing

Posted December 7, 2010 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: MSU Lake Charles

Tags: , , , ,

The mission (should you choose to accept it): deploy active duty, reserve, civilian, and auxiliary volunteers into their communities to increase America’s understanding and awareness of the Coast Guard. Sound familiar? It is the mission of the United States Coast Guard’s initiative called the Compass program.

The Compass program has been created to broaden the Coast Guard’s presence in underrepresented communities. Individual members or units have the ability to sign-up for the program in an effort to spread the mission of the Coast Guard to communities where recruitment offices and/or Coast Guard units are not in the immediate vicinity.

Most recently, Coast Guard Marine Safety Lake Charles, located in the heart of the Lake Charles, La., community, was named the Diversity Champion of the Week. The acknowledgement came directly from the Coast Guard Headquarters Diversity Staff. The Diversity Champion distinction is bestowed upon an individual or unit who has made significant contributions in support of the Commandant’s Diversity Strategic Plan.

“I am extremely proud of the initiative shown by our Compass Program participants. We have a good group of members who are highly committed to making a difference within the Lake Charles community,” said Compher. “The experience will not only raise awareness about the Coast Guard to members of the local community, but will serve to enrich the lives of our volunteers as well,” he said.

MSU Lake Charles has taken the challenge of the Compass program as a unit mission. The process was the combined efforts of Chief Warrant Officer Keith Wilbee and Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Williams, a marine science technician at MSU Lake Chares.

“We thought it would be an awesome opportunity to be able to go into the under- represented communities and put the Coast Guard out there,” said Wilbee.

Wilbee then generated an all-hands e-mail to the unit asking for volunteers to join the program. The response was overwhelming: a team of 15 personnel replied with explicit interest, said Wilbee.

To clarify, Lake Charles is east of the Texas border over the state line. As Wilbee explained, the closest Coast Guard recruiting station is in Metairie, La., which is approximately three hours from Lake Charles.

“More often than not, people have never even heard of the Coast Guard. I make contact with the school and get us involved with community events and then as a whole we get out there to raise awareness,” said Williams.

Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Hutchins, also a marine science technician at MSU Lake Charles and Compass program volunteer, explained about a recent event the volunteer group at MSU Lake Charles attended at a high school in Anacoco, which is located in central Louisiana. There are not a whole lot of opportunities for employment following high school graduation, he said.

“There is a lumber mill and a health clinic in the town as the main sources of real employment opportunities,” said Hutchins.

Anacoco is just north of Ft. Polk, which means that students only see representatives from the Army up there. The majority of the students had never heard of the Coast Guard and the jobs and educational opportunities offered within the organization, said Hutchins.

“The students were asking us realistic questions. It was if they were seeing the Coast Guard as an attainable goal instead of something unrealistic that they could never dream of achieving,” said Hutchins.

Williams added that the Compass program enables Coast Guard members to reach out to all demographics.

“We are able to reach all different cultures and all different demographics through the Compass program,” said Williams. “We show them that goals are attainable. I think the Compass program gives the students the tools to reach those goals,” he said.

Wilbee is a huge proponent of the Compass program, and takes a great sense of pride in the Coast Guard and what it brought to his life. Now is Wilbee’s opportunity to “pay it forward” and show the next generation the benefits of life in the Coast Guard.

“I grew up in the 1970s in Kansas City and both my parents had passed away by the time I was 14,” said Wilbee. “I thought I had no opportunities until I stumbled onto the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was the best thing that ever happened to me. It provided with the tools I needed to succeed and now it’s time I pass that knowledge on to the next generation,” he said.

Story and photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Renee C. Aiello

Where are they now: Chief Jason Rule

Posted November 30, 2010 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: ANT Panama City

Tags: , , , ,


Do you remember your first night upon arrival at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May? Do you remember the first face you saw after the bus pulled to a screeching halt in front of Sexton Hall? How could you forget the emotion, the sights, the sounds, or the uncertainty? For the recruits it was impending doom. For company commanders such as Chief Petty Officer Jason Rule, it was an opportunity to have a hand in molding future Coast Guardsmen.

Once you hit the field, it’s not too often that you have the privilege to run into a prior company commander; it’s a rare and unique opportunity. And, when that type of opportunity presents itself, carpe diem! So, I did just that. I spent a couple hours with officer-in-charge Chief Jason Rule in his office at Aids to Navigation Team Panama City, Fla. We talked about his journey, what led to his decision to become a company commander and how the experience has shaped his Coast Guard career.

Rule, a boatswain mate, was stationed at TRACEN Cape May as a company commander from 1997 to 2000. He found his way to Cape May in a roundabout sort of way.

“Initially, I was working on the enlisted recruit training advisory committee, which eventually led to the non-rate workforce structure study, and we met in Cape May. I walked around the base and observed what was going on and I decided to put in for company commander school,” said Rule.

At first sight, Rule, as would any outsider looking in would do, assumed that being a company commander simply involved marching, yelling, and teaching recruits basic military instruction. How very wrong he was.

“Being a company commander wasn’t what I initially thought it was going to be,” said Rule. “Even when you don’t see us we are working. We are writing schedules, handling recruit personnel issues, doing uniform maintenance and handling our collateral duties,” he said.

Rule began his career as a company commander at the pay grade of an E-5 and eventually advanced while he was at TRACEN Cape May to an E-6. Over the course of his three years at TRACEN Cape May, Rule developed a bank of stories that would leave you, the readers, speechless.

Being a company commander is very similar to having an alter ego. When you attend company commander school you are groomed to a certain persona, said Rule. You are expected to meet certain standards because you are the first real taste of the Coast Guard for a new recruit. And, what better way to showcase the Coast Guard then by maintaining impeccable uniform standards.

As a company commander, you are taught to give everyone a 3-second head-to-toe inspection, said Rule. Therefore, as a company commander your uniform standards need to be on point. Rule recalled with a smile, how much time and effort he put into his Coast Guard wardrobe.

“On Saturdays and Sundays when I had off, I spent all day ironing. Even if football was on, all I did was iron my uniforms and polish my boots,” said Rule.

Rule maintained an extensive uniform checklist. To his best recollection while at TRACEN Cape May he owned four ribbon sets, 14 light blue shirts for wear with the tropical blue long uniform, seven pair of wool trousers for the dress uniforms and four pair of Chorofram dress shoes. And don’t forget the shirt-stays.

“I wore shirt-stays for five years after I left TRACEN. Old habits die hard, what can I say,” said Rule.

There are certain tricks-to-the-trade that company commanders learn. Without divulging to many of their secrets, Rule alluded to the notion that being a company commander is a “role” they are taught to play in school that is often mistaken for arrogance.

“The biggest misconception is that we are prima donnas. Some of our intensity may come off as arrogance, but we are taught to play a role, and we have to stay in that role for a reason,” said Rule.

One of the hardest things to do as a company commander is to maintain the role once they leave TRACEN after a full workday, said Rule. When the recruits are given off-base liberty it isn’t uncommon for a company commander to see the recruits out in the town of Cape May. As a company commander, it is imperative they maintain composure and at times continue in the role of company commander even during liberty hours.

The eight-week journey is a learning experience not only for the new recruits but also for the company commanders. Rule said he learned leadership skills that have been invaluable to his Coast Guard career. Through the hundreds of recruits that came and went under his command, he was constantly learning something new.

“They learned from me and I learned from them. Being a company commander has given me more patience. It has helped me to better understand why we do certain things in the Coast Guard,” said Rule.

From time to time, Rule will sit back in his office and reflect on the various recruit companies he ran, as well as specific recruits that left their mark on his time at TRACEN Cape May. Two such recruit companies come to mind. Papa 152 and Victor 154.

Rule ran Papa 152 with Petty Officer 1st Class Pernell Parker, who is now retired. Why does this particular company stand out?

“We started with 78 recruits, including 14 females. We graduated 40 of those recruits, and only one of those was female,” said Rule.

Victor 154 stands out for a different reason.

“I ran that company with HS1 Mark Gurnett and MK2 Jeff Keim,” said Rule. “They were one of the most extremely disciplined and motivated companies I’ve ever run. You could have them stand out in a field for hours, and they wouldn’t move a muscle,” he said.

It’s more difficult for Rule to pinpoint specific individuals that stood out. He did mention that there have been times when he has been stationed with someone that graduated from one his recruit companies.

“At first it’s awkward, but after the awkwardness wares off, it’s business as usual,” said Rule.

On his window ledge in his ANT Panama City office, Rule has a book of memories. He shared this particular book with me the afternoon we met. It is full of photos of past companies, hand-written letters from recruits, and keepsakes reminding Rule of his three years spent at TRACEN Cape May.

One photo stands out from all the rest (see photo right, taken by then, Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Brewer, now Lt. Brandon Brewer). It’s a photo that has gained popularity from being published in the recruit Blue Jacket manual. In it, Rule is invading the personal space of a covered recruit for not obeying a direct order. Rule, without hesitation recalled that day with precise accurateness.

“I was yelling at him because I was attempting to get them to count and get themselves into squads. Once they formed into their squads I told them to take their covers off. He was the only one who didn’t take off his cover,” said Rule.

Rule, now 40, has had a long and prosperous career. His journey through the Coast Guard has taken him to Station Saginaw River, Station Toledo, ANT Detroit and now ANT Panama City where he is officer-in-charge. If he could liken his time as a company commander to anything he would use this analogy:

“Being a company commander is like being a law enforcement official or a politician. You are out in the public every single day,” said Rule. “You are the representative of the Coast Guard.” If you are a mess, how could you be taken seriously? If you say it, you better be prepared to own it,” he said.

Be the Light

Posted November 24, 2010 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: Station Destin

Tags: , , , , ,

Above, the family of Petty Officer 3rd Class Lonnie Jones (from left to right): son, Lonnie Jr.; daughter, Latesha Passmore; wife, Jacqueline Jones; daughter, Michelle Jones and mother, Pearline White. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Ranel.

It was the morning of March 30, 1981, and Jacqueline Jones could just feel that something just wasn’t quite right.

“I just felt like something had happened to Lonnie. Something just wasn’t quite right. I had cooked Lonnie some breakfast, and it was sitting on the table waiting for him, and he never showed,” said Jones.

Unfortunately Jones was correct. Something had happened to her husband of six years. In the early morning hours of March 30, 1981, Petty Officer 3rd Class Lonnie Jones, a machinery technician at Coast Guard Station Destin, had lost his life doing what he had been trained to do: save lives.

Almost 30 years later, on Nov. 19, 2010, Jones was honored posthumously in a ceremony at Coast Guard Station Destin. The ceremony, complete with taps and a flyover from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, was held under a crisp fall sky and attended by local dignitaries and Coast Guardsmen from units as far away as Mobile, Ala.

Local Destin businessman Ken Wright, a retired Coast Guard warrant officer, donated an Italian-made marble lighthouse statue, now a permanent tribute at Station Destin to Petty Officer Lonnie Jones. Wright, and Master Chief Petty Officer Timothy Hudson, officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Station Destin, unveiled the memorial lighthouse during the ceremony on Nov. 19 (see photo, right). The lighthouse, as described by Wright, is a fitting way to memorialize Jones.

“The goal of the memorial is to recognize what the Coast Guard does and the sacrifice made by Lonnie Jones. The late Petty Officer Jones will continue to save lives through his sacrifice,” said Wright.

The tragic chain of events that occurred in 1981 unfolded in a matter of three hours. On that morning, lives were forever changed, a son would never meet his father, a wife would be left raising three children on her own, and the Coast Guard would be void of a dedicated shipmate.

The mishap report from March 30, 1981, chronicled the events leading to the demise of Petty Officer Lonnie Jones. The weather that March day was ominous. By Florida standards, it was a chilly 60 degrees, as Jones described it. Reports from the National Weather Service logged the day as overcast with dense fog, the sea temperature hovered at 58 degrees and there was a small craft advisory.

At approximately 5:45 a.m., a man walked into Station Destin reporting that the boat he was in capsized and one of his crewmembers was still missing. Somehow the man had struggled to shore, but he still required the assistance of the Coast Guard.

At 5:55 a.m., the station launched a 41-foot utility boat with three crewmembers, including Petty Officer Lonnie Jones, and by 6:10 a.m. the UTB crew was ordered to return to base because the second survivor from the initial search and rescue case was located safely on the beach.

As the UTB crew made its way back to Station Destin, the boat was struck broadside by a wave in seas greater than 15 feet. A second wave struck the UTB, eventually causing the boat to lose power and rudder control, and capsize with three Coast Guard crewmembers aboard. The three crewmembers were swept forward into the passenger’s compartment of the UTB and found relief in an air pocket allowing the crewmembers to breath.

At 6:14 a.m., the crewmembers were standing in rising water in the forward compartment. It was then that the crewmembers sighted the jetties approximately 200 yards away. Fearing imminent death the three broke a side window and attempted to swim to the jetties without a life jacket in 58 degree water and 15-foot waves crashing over their heads. Two of the crewmembers successfully made the swim, but Petty Officer Lonnie Jones rapidly succumbed to hypothermia and perished.

The surviving two Coast Guard crewmembers were rescued via helicopter at 8 a.m. and medevaced to a local hospital where they were treated for hypothermia. At 9 a.m., Petty Officer Lonnie Jones’s body was recovered and brought to the local hospital. By 9:25 a.m., Petty Officer Jones was pronounced dead. The cause of death: hypothermia-induced drowning. Sometime that morning Jacqueline Jones received a phone call from two of her husband’s friends from Station Destin.

“They called and said that Lonnie had been in an accident while at work. I asked them if he was OK. They said he was in critical condition, but something still wasn’t right,” said Jones.

When Jones arrived at the hospital, she learned that her husband had passed away, leaving Jones with two young daughters, Michelle and Latesha, and one child on-the-way who would later be named Lonnie Jr.

“Lonnie never knew that I was pregnant with our son,” said Jones.

It has been almost 30 years since Lonnie’s death, and Jones still misses him very much.

“For me that was the day my life stopped. I lived for my husband. I have never remarried. My husband was a gentleman and they just don’t make men like him anymore,” said Jones.

Jones described her husband as an outgoing, caring, loving person, who was a jokester. His job in the Coast Guard was very fitting to his personality.

“He loved people. He was always helping people because he said that’s what made him happy,” said Jones.

Capt. Peter Troedsson, chief of staff for the Eighth Coast Guard District, who offered some kind words to the Jones family during the memorial service, noted that Jones is now part of a long line of distinguished Coast Guardsmen.

“Petty Officer Jones made a commitment to the service of the American public. He now follows a long line of heroes,” said Troedsson.

Jones may be gone, but he is not forgotten. The lighthouse at Station Destin will be a constant reminder for the Guardians who follow that the sea is not forgiving. Etched on that memorial are the words “be the lighthouse.” Though gone for eternity, Jones will continue to “be the light,” allowing his legacy to shine, lighting the way for Coasties making their way back home.

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Renee C. Aiello
Photographs by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey J. Ranel

So others may live

Posted November 20, 2010 by Lone Star Guardian
Categories: MSU Galveston, Uncategorized

On any given day you can find him performing safety inspections on vessels and crawling through various spaces just to make sure everything is good to go. But when he isn’t out doing safety inspections and helping to save lives, he can likely be found helping his community.

Who is he? He’s Petty Officer 1st Class Corey Maples, a machinery technician at Marine Safety Unit Texas City.

His most recent community service event wasn’t something that was handed to him. In fact it fell a lot closer to home for Maples.

Earlier this year on Oct. 3rd Maples and his wife were driving on Galveston Island when he noticed a Coast Guard helicopter and an ambulance on a beach. So he pulled his car over and offered to help, not knowing what was going on.

“I was there with my family when I saw the ambulance lights turning and I knew something was wrong and I had to help,” said Maples.

Soon he was filled in on what was happening and Maples dove into action, literally.

After seeing a Coast Guard rescue swimmer plowing through the surf alone, with a little girl in his arms, he dove in the water to help.

After getting the little girl back on shore she was taken by emergency medical services to a hospital.

Unfortunately the efforts of all of the Coast Guard members and EMS on scene couldn’t save the lives of the twin girls.

That was when Maples decided he would help in another way.

He started working together with George Fuller, the director of community development for Texas City.

“When I first met Corey I couldn’t believe it, this man just hit the ground running, heaven and earth started moving,” said Fuller. “He would start at 6:30 a.m. and he was always working and every time you saw him he had a smile on his face.”

They ended up setting up a silent auction, line dancing and selling plates of barbecue to help raise money for the family.

“All I wanted to do was help raise some money for this mother who just lost her husband and two kids, Maples stated. “I figured we would raise some money but I couldn’t believe the turn out for the event.”

And a turn out indeed. The fund raiser ended up raising over $10,000 for the family.

“That day we sold over over 900 plates of food,” Maples said. “That includes 750 pieces of chicken and 200 pounds of sausage.”

“It wasn’t just the Coast Guard helping out this family it was community members from all around the Houston area,” said Maples.

“I know the money can’t replace the lost family members but I hope it can help them move forward with their lives,” Maples said.