At a recent ceremony at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Auxiliary members Cono Casale, Walter Murray and William Clark of Dunedin received the Medal of Operational Merit Award for the rescue of boaters in distress. The awards were presented by Capt. Sheryl L. Dickinson.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary Facility vessel Suzy 2, while under way for a training mission in Clearwater Harbor, was diverted to investigate a report of a capsized sailboat with people in the water.
A mother and her 14-year-old son were located, both exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia, and struggling to right their overturned small sailboat. Nearby, a second sailboat with husband and father of the first pair were observed in a similarly precarious predicament. The inexperienced sailors, wearing only life jackets and limited cold weather clothing, were cast into 55-degree water when deteriorating weather overturned their vessels. Efforts to right the sailboats left the victims exhausted and unable to pull themselves from the water.
Coast Guard Station Sand Key was alerted of the second distressed vessel and facilitated the rescue of the father, while the crew of Suzy 2 extracted the mother from the vessel's rigging, then helped both mother and son aboard.
Both victims were in need of immediate medical attention. The crew provided aid as Suzy 2 made best speed to Station Sand Key, where emergency medical services awaited.
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Coast Guard Fireman Apprentice Alissa M. Kaufmann, daughter of Terry and Michelle Kaufmann of Palm Harbor, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Training Center in Cape May, N.J.
During the eight-week training program, the fireman apprentice participated in a rigorous training program consisting of academics and practical instruction on water safety and survival, military customs and courtesies, seamanship skills, physical fitness, health and wellness, first aid, fire fighting and marksmanship. To reinforce a team concept, all recruits are trained in preventing sexual harassment, drug and alcohol awareness, civil rights training, and the basics of the work-life balance.
The recruits also received instruction on the Coast Guard's core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.
She is a 2010 graduate of Palm Harbor University High.
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Army Pvt. Israel C. Thompson, son of Carl Thompson of Clearwater, graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.
During nine weeks of training, the soldier studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches, and field training exercises.
Thompson graduated in 2010 from Clearwater High.
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Palm Harbor University High senior Bradley Simon accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will be a member of the Class of 2015 and will be welcomed to the Cadet Wing on June 23.
The U.S. Air Force Academy is the youngest of the nation's five service academies. Candidates for admission are judged on academic and athletic achievements, demonstrated leadership ability and character. To gain admission, candidates must also pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination and be personally recommended for the position, usually by a member of Congress from their home district. Simon received his congressional nomination from U.S. Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young.
Simon is a pitcher and co-captain on Palm Harbor University High's baseball team, is a member of the National Honor Society, and has maintained a GPA above 4.0 throughout his four years of high school. He received acceptance letters from the University of Florida, Florida State University, and a scholarship offer from the University of Central Florida before receiving the news of his appointment offer from the USAF Academy.
He is the son of Art and Krista Simon of Palm Harbor.