With the smell of grilling hamburgers drifting through the open door while rows of American flags fluttered in the breeze outside, David Troutman, a 38-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, eased back in his chair, marine radio to one side, and contemplated the meaning of Flotilla 26’s annual Base Commissioning on June 3.
“Base Commissioning Day is special because it speaks to the idea that multiple agencies are here to help out,” Troutman said. “It gives us a chance to have a day to celebrate and have a good time after all the work that we’ve put in to get the base ready.”
Anticipation for the boating season was evident.
Auxiliarist Helen “Lou” Cummings said she was eager to get out on the water and work with the public while Auxiliarist Sara Barden noted: “I’m looking forward to seeing what I can learn. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can get involved in that I haven’t been involved in before.”
Auxiliarist Matthew Jennings emphasized Base Commissioning Day as a unifying force for the Flotilla and its partner agencies.
“It’s good to reunite with the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and our shipmates after the long winter,” he said. “It’s good to get re-familiarized with things such as knot-tying and responding to a man overboard call. I want to continue to help others.”
|Auxiliarists Bonnie Stilwell (left),
Matthew Jennings (center), and
Karen Beehm ready the American ensign.
Immediate Past Vice Flotilla Commander Karen Beehm offered the invocation. A bell tolled twice in memory of Auxiliarists Robert Campbell (Flotilla 26) and Thomas Callender III (Flotilla 2-14) who crossed over the bar during the past year. A third strike of the bell honored all armed services members who had passed away.
Conroy acknowledged and thanked Lt. James Paravati and Deputy Robert Snider from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. Then a Flag Detail comprised of Auxiliarists Bill Cummings, Lou Cummings, Karen Beehm, Matthew Jennings, and Bonnie Stilwell raised the American ensign to a recording of “The Star Spangled Banner” played by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy band. Asked about the recording later, David Troutman, who was responsible for providing the music, grinned. “It’s from a CD I found called ‘Semper Paratus’.”
|Members and friends of Flotilla 26 listen to opening remarks
at Base Commissioning Day.
“Within the last two weeks,” he said, “members from this unit participated in HAZWOPER Training conducted by the Marine Safety Team out of (Coast Guard) Sector Buffalo. In addition, just this weekend, a number of Auxiliarists donated their valuable time to conducting exercises out on Oneida Lake, and in the Canal, to improve their skills in Search and Rescue.”
|Auxiliarist John Ressue listens to a
speaker at Base Commissioning Day.
Following the ceremony attendees broke for a potluck lunch. Hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salads, sausage rolls, casseroles, dips, soft drinks, brownies, and pies packed the galley.
As members of Flotilla 26 tucked into their meals, they shared plans for the summer. Lou Cummings said she was particularly looking forward to Harborfest, an annual event near Coast Guard Station Oswego. John Parish stressed the importance of seeking out and recruiting new members in the coming months. Bill Cummings, who recently was certified as a Coast Guard Auxiliary financial educator, speculated that he might return to Station Erie or Station Oswego at some point to hold seminars on the Coast Guard’s new Blended Retirement System (BRS).
By 3 p.m., with the base opening celebration nearing an end, Flotilla 26 members were finally ready for something that they all had expected to show up.
|Auxiliarist Bonnie Stilwell (right) and a guest enjoy a lighter
moment during fellowship on Base Commissioning Day.