From the field: Air Station Traverse City opens its doors to the public

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Today’s post comes from Cmdr. Jon Spaner, Commanding Officer of Air Station Traverse City, Mich.

Traverse City, Michigan has a population of approximately 14,000 people. Despite overcast skies and heavy rain, over 4,000 local residents turned-out on October 4th to attend the Air Station Open House. Sponsored in part by the Traverse City Rotary Club, the event provided a unique opportunity for the community to get an in-depth look at the Coast Guard, our extensive missions, capabilities, equipment and partnerships, and the exemplary men and women who bring it all together.

See the video here.

The Open House involved many Coast Guard and other units with a broad spectrum of mission responsibilities. For example, Station Charlevoix sent a crew and 25’ RB-S response vessel to showcase capabilities of Great Lakes small boat stations. There was a booth sponsored by Sector Lake Michigan and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers detailing the challenges of aquatic nuisance species and our joint measures to protect the Great Lakes and maritime public. The Coast Guard Auxiliary provided an auxiliary vessel, Cessna 180 and Cessna 172 aircraft, and a booth to promote boating safety.

(Right: Residents of Traverse City, Mich., get up close with an Air Station Traverse City HH-65C helicopter at the unit’s open house event Oct. 4, 2009. USCG photo)

A Coast Guard recruiter was on hand to discuss career opportunities with hundreds from the “next generation” of Guardians. The National Guard and Great Lakes Maritime Academy also sent representatives to discuss their career and education programs. The local Coast Guard Exchange sold logo gear and promoted the Coast Guard Exchange program. Most notably, the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama sent an HC-144 Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft and crew, which is the Coast Guard’s newest and most sophisticated aviation asset. Crowds stood in line for nearly an hour in the rain to tour this impressive aircraft.

(Left: Traverse City, Mich., residents wait in line to see the Coast Guard’s newest aviation asset, the HC-144 Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft. USCG photo)

Air Station personnel were on hand to educate the public on various operational specialties. Mechanics, aircrew, rescue swimmers and pilots were positioned around the hangar, standing at aircraft and in their shop spaces to answer questions, demonstrate equipment and give helicopter tours. There were also two search and rescue demonstrations performed by an air station HH-65C Dolphin crew, and the Air Station Commanding Officer advanced AMT2 Taticek at the beginning of the event. With family, friends and the public on hand, it was a wonderful venue for operational demonstrations and a promotion ceremony.

All told, the Open House provided an exceptional opportunity for the public to get a detailed look at Coast Guard multi-mission assets and capabilities, tour the facility, interact with our partners and learn first-hand why we are known as “Great Lakes Guardians.” The event was an overwhelming success because of the support of our local community and interagency partners. Traverse City is applying to become a Coast Guard City in 2010. The Air Station’s command themes are leadership, partnership and citizenship.”

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