Coast Guard promotes formation of Wrangell auxiliary detachment

Liz Buness is working to reestablish a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary detachment in Wrangell, and she received some help last week when a retired vice admiral, a division commander and Alaska district chief of staff were in town to meet with community members, answer questions and promote the idea.

Wrangell has been without an auxiliary for about 25 years. While working to change that, Buness was sworn in as a member by the visiting dignitaries in a ceremony July 14 in Wrangell.

“The Coast Guard, especially in Alaska, has radio stations up around the coast,” said David Larkin, commander of the Juneau auxiliary detachment.

“If you’re in trouble you get on (channel) 16 and call,” Larkin said. But, if the

Coast Guard equipment is down for maintenance or is not working, “and the Coast Guard doesn’t hear you,” auxiliary members monitoring the channel can pick up the call and contact the Coast Guard, he said.

Buness said it would take 15 members for Wrangell to be recognized as its own detachment, but that is not a firm number, and anyone interested should contact her for more information at 907-305-0014.

“There’s actually a lot of training just to get through the hoops,” Buness said. “But once we get established and get all the training done for basic qualifying, then it would be like once a month, maybe twice a month. … Then of course the activities you do, it depends on what the need is.”

The auxiliary is a volunteer component of the Coast Guard. Auxiliary members can provide a number of duties to assist the Coast Guard and communities such as Wrangell, such as providing vessel safety checks, boating safety checks, youth activities, anti-pollution work, ham radio operators, and serving as cooks aboard Coast Guard cutters.

Being part of the auxiliary also offers training and educational opportunities, the visiting officials said.


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