by Madison White Franks
REEDVILLE—The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) on April 2 presented a Distinguished Public Service Award to Smith Point Sea Rescue (SPSR). The award is the highest USCG award that can be given to a civilian organization.
The award recognized SPSR for its outstanding all-volunteer support of mariner safety in the mid-Chesapeake Bay region from December 1973 to December 2017. SPSR volunteers have conducted over 2,500 missions, often at night and in foul weather, and have saved or assisted hundreds of mariners throughout a 44-year history.
Criteria for the award includes extraordinary heroism, exceptional coordination and/or coordination in matters pertaining to the USCG’s responsibilities and personal and direct contribution that had a direct bearing on the accomplishment of the USCG’s responsibilities to its citizens.
USCG Capt. Rick Wester, Hampton Roads sector; Adm. Meredith Austin, Fifth Coast Guard District; and Senior Chief Brian Martin, Milford Haven Coast Guard Station, presented the award.
The award is long overdue, said Adm. Austin.
Capt. Wester noted two lifesaving events by SPSR including the October 20, 1978, call to assist when the USCG cutter Cuyahoga collided with the M/V Santa Cruz and sank within two minutes. SPSR deployed and saved 18 coast guard members from the water and assisted in wreckage recovery.
Also on November 19, 2017, the crew saved the life of a hypothermic and disoriented mariner who was rescued from 47-degree water as he was clutching to a navigation aid 1,000 yards offshore while not wearing a lifejacket.
“SPSR is very active in the local community, further embodying their spirit of service. SPSR’s dedication, professionalism and unwavering support for the maritime community is most heartily commended and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Capt. Wester.