“Together We Are Better;” Great Lakes USCG Auxiliary Blazing New Trails

>If there’s one thing we know about the Coast Guard on the Great Lakes, we know it is one of the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s most active areas in the United States. Divided into three regions, the Ninth District (D9) Auxiliary’s 3,168 members, 425 surface facilities, 32 air facilities, and 195 radio facilities are a true force multiplier. It is difficult to imagine a busy Great Lakes boating season without the operational contribution of the USCG Auxiliary. These are selfless volunteers who desire one thing- to serve their country, many of them the second or third times in their lives.

(Right: Ninth District Auxiliary members patrol a safety zone during the Red Bull Air Races on the Detroit River, 2008)

On April 16-19, the three D9 regions (Eastern, Central and Western) held a first-of-its-kind combined symposium in Pontiac, Michigan. More than 600 members attended various training activities in a campus style environment including three Class C Schools, Aviation Crew Resource Management Training, an Aviation Safety Workshop, and the first ever Flotilla Leadership Academy.

Best practices and executive sessions were held and included Sector Commanders, Air Station Commanding Officers, the National Commodore and the Director of Auxiliary staff. These sessions focused on direct interaction with senior Auxiliary leadership from all three regions.


(Left: Members of the Ninth District Auxiliary help the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw offload Christmas Trees for disadvantaged families in the Chicago area during the annual Christmas Tree Ship event 2008.)

Vice Admiral Robert Papp, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area, shared his vision on leadership, modernization and future of the CG and CG Aux, and delivered a stirring address at the Grand Ball on the subject of heroes.

(Right: Ninth District Auxiliary leadership welcomes Vice Admiral Robert Papp (far right), Atlantic Area Commander, to the combined symposium held April 14-16 in Michigan.)

The three D9 regional Commodores, Randy Podolsky, Wes Cotrell, and Ray Gress should be commended for their inspirational leadership and teamwork. These guys “get it,” and have clearly committed themselves to sharing best practices, achieving commonality, and standardizing procedures across the three regions. They are blazing new trails and providing an example for the Auxiliary to follow nation-wide.

When they decided on their Symposium theme “Together We Are Better,” these Commodores really meant it! Bravo Zulu to all the dedicated Ninth District Auxiliary Guardians!

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