HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUXILIARY STYLE
Karen L. Miller, Division 11 Captain
Art Austin of Clearwater celebrated his 81st birthday recently in a very special way thanks to an email that his daughter sent to Mel Manning, Commander of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-1 (Clearwater).
Jean Field, also of Clearwater, wrote, "……I am attaching a photo of my father, Art Austin, who was an active Auxiliarist in Flotilla 11-1 in the 1970's. He still has the many SAR awards on his office wall. I remember attending his Aids to Navigation classes and Marine Engine classes as a young girl and spending many a weekend upstairs in the radio room at the Clearwater Marina." She then went on to explain that, for the past two months he had lovingly cared for his wife after her surgery, and that she wanted to give him a day on the water with his Auxiliary. She included a photograph of her father in uniform proudly standing aboard an Auxiliary boat.
That email was all it took. The Clearwater Flotilla swung into action. Although the Flotilla was already supporting the Ironman Competition with two boats and their full crews the Flotilla members came through. Ed Kasper as coxswain, his wife, Theresa, and Florence Sloan as crewmembers, and Helen Prokopchuk as trainee, took Art and Jean aboard Kasper's boat-Ghost.
The crew performed a full safety patrol which included a brief stop at Coast Guard Station Sand Key, something they didn't do in the 70's. Art sent a letter to Ed praising his boat handling skills and for making it such a wonderful birthday present.
While the members of Clearwater Flotilla 11-1 are focused on completing the missions of the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, they still retain their humanity and were proud and happy to give a former member a thrill of a lifetime.
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