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More than a few words in defense of Coast Guard

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The Times welcomes letters to the editor. They should be brief and must include the writer's address and handwritten signature. Letters may be mailed to the Clearwater Times, Largo-Seminole Times or North Pinellas Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 34616, or faxed by calling 445-4119. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published or acknowledged.

Editor: I am writing in response to John H. Ford's letter concerning the so-called waste of taxpayers' money on the U.S. Coast Guard. I, too, live in one of the landing patterns of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and also am annoyed by passing aircraft. I might add it is the commercial airlines that produce the majority of the noise in question. The last time I checked, jet engines made far more noise than rotor- or propeller-driven aircraft.

Before Mr. Ford criticizes the Coast Guard, he may want to speak with some of the thousands of taxpaying people who are alive today thanks to the tireless efforts of the Coast Guard, whether it be directly through search and rescue or indirectly through boat inspections and water safety training.

Each time the men and women of the Coast Guard respond to a call for help, you can bet the people involved are highly trained and dedicated to risking their lives to save another. Through training flights and the daily practice of their skills, the men and women of the Coast Guard reduce to the least possible factor that risk to themselves and the people who desperately need their help.

And, no, I am not a Coast Guard recruiter or a member of the Coast Guard. I am the wife of a first-class petty officer and proud of it.

Unlike Mr. Ford, I can say I know many men and women who, day after day, make it their business to save lives, not to mention stop drug runners, maintain aids to navigation and aid the Department of Natural Resources, Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Customs Service in their thankless jobs.

My only hope is that Mr. Ford's grandson, for whom he is so concerned, is never in distress on the water, and because of Mr. Ford's efforts the Coast Guard hasn't the resources to respond to his calls for help.

Carla Isaacson, Safety Harbor

Editor: At lunch yesterday I opened the newspaper to the editorial page and suddenly found that I had no appetite. What I found was a letter from Mr. John H. Ford of Clearwater lamenting the number of Coast Guard aircraft "invading" the skies over Largo.

Perhaps it has escaped his notice that Largo happens to be on the approach to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. (If he were 50 yards out from the marina in downtown St. Petersburg, he might notice a high concentration of boats.)

One can only assume that Mr. Ford never has been offshore in a sinking boat with his 4-year-old grandson. Perhaps then he would have less heartache with "President Clinton's wasteful Coast Guard expenditure" of fuel for aircraft.

Mr. Ford's contention that the air quality in Pinellas is comparable to that in Los Angeles is the purest drivel. Perhaps he is not so well-traveled as he is loudspoken.

Since its inception, the Coast Guard Air Station here has been credited with saving more than 3,000 lives. From October 1991 to October 1992 alone, the station saved 146 lives, assisted 372 people and saved more than $2.5-million in property.

As for Mr. Ford's "open-mouthed awe" over the Coast Guard's "four-engine monsters and multi-engine helicopters," does he not realize that the Coast Guard does its most urgent flying when no ordinary pilot would take his plane off the ground? I for one would not care to have executed the searches during the recent "storm of the century" in a Piper Cub or tried to hoist the many people stranded on rooftops or floating in the gulf in a small single-engine helicopter.

If Mr. Ford is ever in need, I hope that, in spite of himself and people who share his opinions, the Coast Guard has the ability to aid him.

It is only fair that I point out, in closing, that I believe I am writing this letter in vain. I feel that your paper is far too left-wing-biased to print a letter supporting one of the armed forces of the United States. For this reason I am also sending copies of this letter to the editors of all the other local newspapers. I do, however, invite you to prove me wrong.

Theodore R. Wiesner, St. Petersburg

Editor: I am writing in response to the letter from John H. Ford of Clearwater. As the wife of a Coast Guardsman, I was shocked and appalled by Mr. Ford's ignorance.

Mr. Ford obviously has been fortunate in his life to never have needed the assistance of the Coast Guard. Perhaps he should speak with some of those who have not been as fortunate and who would not be here today without the effort, skill, bravery and unselfishness of the United States Coast Guard.

Does Mr. Ford realize that the men and women who fly aboard these "four-engine monsters and multi-engine helicopters" put their own lives on the line every day to save people and property in distress?

Mr. Ford's request that "we Times readers contact Washington and President Clinton to pull this wasteful Coast Guard expenditure out of his budget" is as ridiculous as the thought of us all writing our local government and asking that our police and fire departments be done away with, and only proves Mr. Ford's ignorance.

Mr. Ford, may I suggest to you that you not waste any more of your time writing letters complaining about things you obviously know nothing about. If you knew anything at all about the Coast Guard, you would be urging us all to write to President Clinton and ask him to give all of our Coast Guard heroes a raise.

Pamela L. Pike, Tarpon Springs

Editor: In response to John H. Ford's letter, maybe I'm a patriotic fool or perhaps just a proud Coast Guard wife, but I take it personally when someone attacks the Coast Guard and the fine job it does.

This "wasteful" expenditure he witnessed was a training exercise to prepare these dedicated men and women for life-saving emergencies. To pull this expenditure from the Coast Guard's budget would perhaps someday put Mr. Ford and his whole family in worse danger if they found themselves adrift at sea.

Who would he call? Certainly not the Coast Guard. There would be no one qualified to rescue him.

My husband has for the last 16 years of his life met the calls of (potential) drowning victims, heart attack victims, those with severed limbs and many children who would not be alive today if he hadn't had the proper training to save their lives. There also have been many sleepless nights when the child didn't make it.

These "monsters" have confiscated billions of dollars' worth of drugs coming into this country that just may have "invaded" Mr. Ford's county and state, not to mention his grandson's elementary school or the street corner in his grandson's neighborhood.

Penny Stanley, Palm Harbor

Taxpayers suffer as road work lingers

Editor: For a year all of us have been at the mercy of the snail-paced contractor working on the intersections of Ulmerton/Starkey and Ulmerton/Belcher roads.

County road officials are to assume responsibility for this plague visited upon all users of this vital road.

While the Bayside Bridge was built in record time, these two projects are months beyond time allotted. Recently I was informed by county officials that the Starkey intersection would be open clear by Christmas. I presume '93.

Taxpayers are made to pay and suffer.

L.A. Kim, Largo

Let's finally put Maas site to good use

Editor: What is Clearwater waiting for? We own the Maas site. We voted not to sell it. We've got the greatest recreation department in Florida.

Why should a majority of sincere family people allow chaos to disrupt and delay a much-needed recreation area?

Many young people must drive miles to dance. I am active in the senior dance program.

Come on. Save money and use what already is paid for. Volunteers and our city Recreation Department could really give greatness to our city. Just let them.

Alyce Beck Husa, Clearwater

Pleasure is just a short walk away

Editor: Pinellas County is blessed with many beautiful parks. One of the best and most convenient to me is Lake Seminole Park.

My wife and I have been using it for the past several years, especially the 2-mile walking trail. The wonders of nature that we have seen in this park are amazing! After many years of patronizing this park, quite often we see things that are completely new, such as two armadillos romping together through the brush, a snow white rat (probably a pet either escaped or turned loose) and many, many other amusing things.

Walking is perhaps the best exercise in the world. The reason is most people can do it without any repercussions. However, before embarking on it, check with your doctor, especially if you're elderly.

If you haven't been taking advantage of these parks, you're missing a great treat and probably an improvement in your overall health.

I am looking forward to the completion of the new bridge over Lake Seminole. It represents quite a short cut for us.

As soon as the new park near the Walsingham Reservoir is completed, we are looking forward to using it also.

Joel Dean Sr., Largo

Here's to the day when cancer is past

Editor: I rode my bicycle to Philippe Park on June 6. There at the picnic area were many young people enjoying the clean air, boating, barbecuing, doing all those things that make life worth living.

A group of young children were wading in the water. Happy voices filled the air as they played their games. But, wait, the young girl who seemed to be the leader in their play looked a little strange. Then it struck me. She was almost bald. Was that the telltale mark of a cancer victim?

Thoughts raced through my mind. Was she indeed in remission? Were her playful actions the signs of recovery?

I thought, here I am, an old man. I gladly would trade places with her if in doing that she would be allowed to enjoy a full life.

Why did a good God allow these beautiful children to become victims of cancer?

Somehow I know that a cure can be found. The scientist who will discover that wondrous substance will be remembered for all time. Giving of our funds and our time volunteering, that day may come a little closer.

Then those little children stricken with cancer would yet be allowed to find they, too, will enjoy all the good that life has to offer!

Gerald Samkofsky, Clearwater

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