>Bright Futures Ahead!

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This summer is the season of change for Station Valdez! Aside from losing about 1/3 of our personnel, we have also lost OINC CWO2 Leigh Johannsen, who on June 25th, 2009 handed off command of Station Valdez to BMC Thad Wagner. The event was bittersweet. Our station is sad to see Mr. Johannsen go but excited to welcome Chief Wagner, who is serving at his second Alaskan unit and his first Officer in Charge billet.

Although Mr. Johannsen only was able to serve one year with the station, he utilized the short amount of time he had to leave the station better than he had found it on July 14, 2008. Not only did he lead the station through stellar RFO and STAN team performances, but he also supported his staff to successfully carry out missions. He also made life at Station Valdez fun! Training at the station always had a little “twist” if Mr. Johannsen was involved. Things like using his boat to be the “bad guy” during LE trainings for example, or running the “Boat Crewman Olympics”. His passion for positive involvement in the community carried through our crew, supporting us in events such as the, “Valdez Polar Bear Plunge” and “Valdez Relay for Life”. (Seeing your OINC jump into frigid Alaskan waters wearing a Batman costume can be quite the morale booster!)

Standing at attention during the ceremony, I couldn’t help but smile when Mr. Johannsen said, “You guys always kept me on my toes. I will definitely miss the entertainment…” Personnel wise, we are not only saying goodbye to a few fellow shipmates, but also some of the station’s main pranksters!

The following is a list of that personnel and where they have gone:

FN Blaine Brandenburger- MK ‘A’ School
SN Aaron Phillips- BM ‘A’ School
SN Cooper Kline- BM ‘A’ School
BM2 Brian Dressler – CGC Cuttyhunk, Oregon
MK2 Chris Tossey – MSU Valdez
BM3 Bradley Latour – CG Buoy Tender Alder, Duluth, MN
BM3 Brad Barnett – out of the Coast Guard, contractor
MK2 Zachariah Monger – Station Two Rivers WI
BM3 Luke Berghuis- Station San Juan Puerto Rico

The next quarters after Change of Command, BMC Wagner was able to address us as a group on a more personal level. After speaking with XPO BM1 Matthew Sponable, EPO MK1 John Daoust, and getting to know the crew a little better, he was able to get a feel for what the station was all about. His first quarters at Station Valdez he illustrated for us his vision of what was needed to maintain the station’s high standards and make us even better. We all chuckled when BMC Wagner described how he has managed to get stationed in each location he’s been to twice. After serving two billets in Texas, one billet in Maine, two billets in Memphis, TN, he is now serving his second Alaskan billet here in Valdez after already serving a billet in Ketchikan. “Now all I have left is to serve another billet in Maine!”

There’s nothing but bright futures ahead, for all of us at Station Valdez, and for those who have gone on to other places. Goodbye and good luck to Mr. Johannsen at MSST San Francisco, and all the others who have left. Welcome aboard Chief Wagner and the other shipmates we have recently gained!

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