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Smithfield Flotilla 59 awarded

By Stephen Faleski

Special to the News-Herald

Smithfield’s Flotilla 59 was selected as this year’s national flotilla of the year out of more than 1,500 U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary flotillas operating nationwide. The award was announced at the Auxiliary’s 2017 National Convention, held Aug. 26-27 in Orlando, Fla.

Flotilla 59 was selected based on the number and types of missions conducted during 2016 and, more importantly, the annual missions per flotilla member. According to AUXINFO, the Auxiliary’s online database for tracking member activities, Flotilla 59 completed more than 1,100 separate missions in 2016, logging over 10,600 hours. Records also indicate that multiple members contributed more than 1,000 hours individually.

The Auxiliary’s national commodore, Richard Washburn, and Chris Edmonston, president of Boat U.S., presented the award to 59’s flotilla commander, R. Anderson Braswell, during the Commodore’s Banquet on Aug. 26.

“This award is a reflection on our membership,” Braswell said. “The number of hours volunteered by our members on a per-person basis is extraordinary. When you love what you do and the people you do it with, I guess you don’t realize how much time you put in.”

According to USCG Auxiliary District Chief of Staff Michelle Thornton, who also serves as a member of Flotilla 59, the selection process for this award begins at the flotilla level, with flotilla commanders submitting their eligibility to their division commanders.

From there, applications from flotillas deemed eligible proceed to the district level, where each district commodore must submit only one for his or her area by no later than May 31 for final consideration by a national awards board. Flotilla 59 is part of District 5 Southern Region, which includes Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Thornton added that the national awards board makes their final determination by using an Excel spreadsheet, which awards a certain number of points to each finalist in several categories, including total membership, the average number of total missions per member and totals per member for specific missions such as vessel safety checks, public education, member training and public affairs.

Records indicate that Flotilla 59 completed 124 separate vessel safety checks in 2016, 32 public education sessions, 56 member training sessions and 237 public affairs missions.