St. Petersburg Event To Honor New Coast Guard Cutter And The Memory of William Flores.
The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education, welfare and morale of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today its 19th Annual Tribute to the United States Coast Guard’s Seventh District will take place on Friday, November 2, 2012. At this year’s event, the Foundation has partnered with the Commissioning Committee for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter William Flores. Seaman Apprentice William Flores heroically and tragically lost his life saving the lives of his shipmates aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorne in 1980. The Coast Guard will hold a special ceremony on Saturday morning following the Tribute that will name the new cutter in Flores’ honor and the crew that will work on it, as well as pay tribute to Flores’ service.
Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores was honored posthumously with the Coast Guard Medal after he gave his life to save his shipmates in the frenzied moments after a collision between Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorne and the 605-foot oil tanker Capricorn on January 28, 1980. Less than a year out of boot camp, 19-year-old Flores remained aboard the sinking ship and used his belt to strap open a lifejacket locker, which allowed lifejackets to float to the surface for use by survivors. Although 27 shipmates escaped the submerged cutter, 22, including Flores, perished.
Attendees of the November 2nd Tribute will include former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the event’s keynote speaker Governor Tom Ridge, Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander Vice Admiral Robert Parker, and Seventh Coast Guard District Commander Rear Admiral William Baumgartner. The Coast Guard Foundation will be represented by President Anne Brengle; Ed Ameen, local Tampa/St. Petersburg businessman, Coast Guard Foundation Director and Chairman of the St. Petersburg Dinner Committee; and the previous Coast Guard Foundation Chairman of the Board and St. Petersburg resident, Ross Roeder. Other distinguished guests include Dick Crippen, emcee and retired local sports announcer; Bill Foster, mayor of St. Petersburg; as well as members of Seaman Apprentice Flores’ family.
“We are thrilled to salute the Coast Guard and honored to partner with the commissioning committee for the William Flores,” said Anne B. Brengle, president, Coast Guard Foundation. “Seaman Apprentice Flores exemplifies the dedication and selfless commitment to duty of the men and women who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. Our Seventh District dinner pays tribute to that spirit and raises awareness and funds that allow us to continue to support the heroic efforts of the guardians who enforce maritime law, protect our homeland and preserve the environment.”
The USCG Cutter William Flores is the third of the new Sentinel-class cutter. At 154-feet long and a speed of over 28 knots, the new cutters replace the aging 110-foot cutter fleet that has performed yeoman work in coastal patrolling. Built at Bollinger Shipyard, the ships have a crew of two officers and 20 enlisted personnel. The William Flores will have a homeport in Miami, Florida and will conduct migrant interdiction operations and port, waterways and coastal security patrols, as well as search and rescue, fisheries and national defense missions.
For more than 40 years, the Coast Guard Foundation has been committed to inspiring leadership, learning and a proud legacy of service to our nation by supporting the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and their families. The Foundation provides higher education grants to enlisted personnel, reservists and their children, financial support for college to families of Coast Guard members lost in the line of duty, financial relief to Coast Guard families who have lost possessions in natural disasters, and support for morale programs, including funding recreation, exercise and family-oriented facilities.
The 19th Annual Tribute to the United States Coast Guard’s Seventh District will be held on Friday, November 2, 2012 at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, 501 5th Avenue NE, St. Petersburg, Florida. The dinner and program will begin at 6:30 pm. For more information on the Coast Guard Foundation’s gala tribute to the United States Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Foundation or to help support its work, please visit the Coast Guard Foundation website www.coastguardfoundation.org.