With crisp fall air sweeping over Menemsha harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Menemsha was presented Monday morning with the prestigious Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award, one of the highest awards in the service. “Display that with pride,” sector Southeastern New England Cmdr. John Kondratowicz said after the pennant was raised on the station’s flagpole. “It’s not just an effort of one individual; it’s a team effort overall. I’m very proud of you and it’s quite the accomplishment.
“Martha’s Vineyard and the surrounding community should be very proud, too,” he continued. “It’s nice to know that if the bell goes off, you guys are ready and the best of the best are responding, whatever the case may be.”
Out of the 192 Coast Guard stations across the country, approximately 17 Sumner Kimball awards were given out this year. The station previously received the award in 2004 and 2008. The award requires a 90 per cent or higher grade after a week-long inspection, which was completed in May.
The award is named after Sumner I. Kimball, who served in the Coast Guard from 1861 to 1915. Mr. Kimball introduced many lifesaving drills, training and performance standards to the Coast Guard that are still used today.
Mr. Kondratowicz said heavy weather training in the region is key.
“When people don’t expect us to be out there, we have to be out there,” he said. “As soon as the weather gets nasty, I’m always asking who’s out training. You need to push the envelope and go as far as you can. You guys have a great area of responsibility to operate in heavy weather. Getting around Vineyard Sound is nasty.”
Sector Cmdr. Senior Chief Christopher Melleby challenged the crew to maintain their level of preparedness.
“The spotlight is on you guys -- the district knows, the stations in the area know that you guys are one of the recipients of this award,” he said. “It’s a challenge now to maintain this level . . . don’t get comfortable. Keep moving forward, keep striving to be professional and keep up that proficiency.”
In addition to the pennant, the station also received an engraved plaque. Menemsha station Senior Chief Jason Olsen said the award would be documented in the crew members’ files and follow them throughout their careers.
Mr. Olsen learned of the award in early summer, but said he wanted to surprise the crew with the designation.
“You guys worked hard all year round and this is just a snapshot of what you do. You guys work really hard and this is awesome,” he said. “I know you guys will keep it up and enjoy this . . . you guys take care of yourself and each other and worked hard. That right there shows you we have great teamwork here.”
“I’m very proud of you guys,” he said.