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A change of watch for the USGC Auxiliary Ruskin Flotilla

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image Officers of USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 75 Ruskin pose for a photograph during their change of watch ceremony on Saturday night. Photo Mitch Traphagen

Safety on the water, even the safety of America’s borders is something placed in their hands and they perform their missions quietly, effectively and with care.

By Mitch Traphagen

They are charged with saving lives, a job they do often but without fanfare.  Safety on the water, even the safety of America’s borders is something placed in their hands and they perform their missions quietly, effectively and with care.  To top it all off, the members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Ruskin Flotilla are all volunteers.  They give their time and, sometimes when the need arises, they will open their own wallets to give even more of themselves. 

On Saturday night in Sun City Center, the USCG Flotilla 75 celebrated their annual Change of Watch ceremony.  The Flotilla is among the longest serving in the Tampa Bay area.

The distinguished invited guests were Boatswains Mate First Class Gregg Pescuma of Coast Guard Station St. Pete who was representing the U.S. Coast Guard, and J. Michael Shea, Commander of Division 7 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Oscar Kramer was sworn in for a second term as Flotilla Commander of Flotilla 75 in Ruskin, Florida. Ray Stewart was sworn in for a second term as Vice Flotilla Commander.

The following Flotilla Staff Officers were sworn in for the 2013 term of office:
Judy Clapp, Human Resources Officer and Secretary
Margaret Engel, Information Systems Officer
Oscar Kramer, Finance Officer
Guy Mandigo, Member Training and Public Education Officer
Steven Prestopic, Materials Officer
Ray Stewart, Marine Safety and Public Affairs Officer
Walter Wagner, Operations Officer
Keith Westbrook, Navigation Systems Officer

In addition to the swearing-in ceremony, several members received awards for outstanding service. Ray Stewart received the Auxiliarist of the Year Award. Gary Mull received the New Member Certificate of Award. Guy Mandigo received a Certificate of Achievement Award for his outstanding efforts in public education, and Judy Clapp received a Certificate of Achievement Award for her outstanding efforts in human resources that permitted them to recruit 15 new members in the past year. Walt Wagner was presented a pennant for his boat in recognition of years of dedicated service as the Operations Officer.

Perhaps best summarizing the evening’s theme was the Invocation delivered by Flotilla Commander Kramer, titled “Prayer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary.”

When we are called to duty, God
Whenever storms and waves may rage
Give us the strength to save a life
Whatever be the age.
Help us embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person
From the horror of that fate.
Enable us to be alert
And hear the weakest shout
Help us respond with safety
And get all the people out.
We want to fill our calling and
Give each the best in us
And guard our every boater
And protect all that we must.
We do this with an open heart
And mind that’s filled with grace
Our goal is to make sure we leave
This world a better place.
So help us learn and do and be
Of benefit to man
The water’s invitation is
To do the best we can.

Congress established the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1939 with a legislative mandate to use civilian volunteers to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters. Through the decades, it has saved untold thousands of lives through boater education programs, patrols, and search and rescue operations. After September 11, 2001, national security was added to its mission.

In addition to their lifesaving and security missions, USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 75 conducts numerous safety classes around the South County area. 

The flotilla, however, currently lacks a permanent home.  If you can help or for information about the many services and opportunities provided by the flotilla, call Guy Mandigo at 813-641-2488

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