Volunteers bolster important work of Flotilla 17-6



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During the past year, I have written about people who served in the military and continue to serve with veteran organizations.

The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 17-6, numbering 84 members, perform close to 20,000 hours of serving others each year by assisting this branch of the military.

These are professionally trained volunteers, 60 percent of whom already already served on active duty in the military. Members of the Auxiliary are part of the uniformed civilian component of the Coast Guard. They are from Brevard, Indian River and Orange counties.

“The rest are people who wished they’d served in the military,” said Bill Cox, public affairs officer for the flotilla. “We’re all part of team Coast Guard.”

These members relish what they do. Not all serve on the water. Some serve on land, assisting with different duties at Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral, but they all get that sense of serving their community.

Flotilla members operate nine boats and an airplane for marine and air patrols, search and rescue, and aid to navigation with U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral. Environmental and ecological patrol and response also is part of their duties as volunteers. Boater education also includes boating safety courses available at no-cost to all Brevard County high school Junior ROTC and Civil Air Patrol Cadets.

“We spend a lot of time in the air and on the water,” Cox said. “Most of our people are interested in the maritime aspect.”

These are people who should be commended for the service they provide. They are the additional eyes and ears for the Coast Guard and perform many of the same duties as the active duty Coast Guard members. And they do it well.

Just recently an auxiliary boat crew received the Coast Guard’s Award of Operational Merit for the lifesaving rescue of two boaters whose small vessel stalled and was in the direct path of a cargo ship in the channel at Port Canaveral. The incident occurred last summer.

Rick Bloom, John Holmes, Robert Caldo and Robert DiCicco were on patrol when they heard the five short blasts from the ship’s horn and responded within two minutes. They were able to tow the boat out of the ship’s path in time.

This is just one award. I’ve observed auxiliary members out on patrol. I know there is much more that they do that is extremely valuable in assisting the Coast Guard in keeping the Space Coast waterways safer. 

For more information about Coast Guard Auxiliary, go to cgaux.org