Volunteers good at their work

Published 9:26 pm Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In an area with as much water as Hampton Roads, everybody knows how important the U.S. Coast Guard is to their daily lives. Not many months go by without coasties making the news in a rescue mission, a drug interdiction or some other bit of marine derring-do played out on television screens around the area.

Less well known are the men and women who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, volunteers who help monitor and patrol the area’s many miles of waterways.

Auxiliary teams provide a variety of services, including vessel checks, river patrol, navigation, tending to abandoned vessels and helping those with stalled engines. Their duties include all of the same duties required by the Coast Guard, except they do not engage in military action or law enforcement.

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Smithfield’s Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 5-9 helped get the word about the auxiliary’s duties in a recent tongue-in-cheek music video developed, produced and performed by auxiliary members. The video can be seen on the Flotilla 5-9 YouTube channel or at www.facebook.com/flotilla59.

Just this month, though, members of the flotilla did something even better: They proved how adept they are at their duties in the District Annual Search and Rescue Competition at Yorktown’s Coast Guard Training Center. Members called the event the “Olympics of the Auxiliary.” Following the analogy, the group took gold by winning the championship at the event.

Teams were required to complete several tasks during the competition, including knot tying, using a piece of equipment that pumps water from a boat that has taken on water, and going through the motions of a search and rescue mission. Navigation chart exercises, heaving line throws and damage control also were among the tasks completed.

It’s great that the Smithfield flotilla was able to come up with a creative way to tell the world about the volunteer work Coast Guard auxiliaries do. What’s even better, though, is to know they’re so good at the things they rapped about.

Congratulations to Flotilla 5-9.