A link in the Aleutian Chain: Munro visits Adak

CGC Munro in Adak

Capt. Mark Cawthorn, commanding officer Coast Guard Cutter Munro, presents a Munro plaque to Thomas Spitler, mayor of Adak, in Adak, Alaska, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Munro.

By Lt. j.g. Jacob Hauser

Spirits were high in the distant Adreanoff Islands village of Adak Saturday afternoon as students, teachers and parents filled the mess deck of the visiting Kodiak–based Coast Guard Cutter Munro. Munro’s crew provided a cinematic treat that Adak’s children seldom get to experience, complete with candy, popcorn and beverages. Thirty viewers enjoyed the 2010 animated Lion’s Gate film Alpha and Omega after receiving a guided tour of the ship.

Shortly after mooring, Munro’s officers hosted Adak’s Mayor Thomas Spitler and other community leaders in order to share sea stories about Aleutian life and thank the town of Adak for its hospitality. Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Mark A. Cawthorn took the opportunity to present the citizens of Adak with a Munro plaque and life ring.

“We are grateful for the friendship and hospitality shown by everyone in Adak,” said Cawthorn. “We love this island and all it has to offer. Some of the fondest memories of my 27 year career will be of time spent here.”

These and other activities were coordinated by the leadership of Munro’s Chief’s Mess, Senior Chief Petty Officers Sean Twiggs and Jody Fogle, who reached out to Adak’s community leaders weeks in advance to make arrangements for the big visit.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Sasha Baker, an electrician’s mate, gave up liberty with other volunteers to host Adak’s children and their teachers.

“We all enjoyed it” she said, “I like any time that we get to show what we do for the community, especially a small community like this.”

Baker was asked by some of the older students what it was like serving aboard a cutter. After showing them how the crew lived aboard, and how members treated one another as shipmates, she heard something that made her day: ‘I think this is something I can do!’ Baker quoted one girl as saying.

“The youngest kids were all, really, really excited.” Baker added, “We let them take turns in the helicopter and our aviation survival technician [Petty Officer 1st Class Rob Williams] let them push buttons and pretend to fly it.”

Williams ensured safety and explained how things worked to the visitors.

“We also took them to the bridge, which they loved,” said Baker. “They were all very well behaved and they thanked us when the day was over. The adults were appreciative as well.”

Every visitor left Munro with patrol wear, courtesy of the morale committee. Smiling young faces complemented the words scrolled on each t-shirt: Business As Usual: 9,583 Nautical Miles, 68 Days, 65 Flight Ops, 17 Boardings and 14 Lives Saved.

Coast Guard Cutter Munro in Adak July 2011. Photo courtesy Christopher Diaz.

Coast Guard Cutter Munro in Adak July 2011. Photo courtesy Christopher Diaz.

In the spirit of past Bering Sea cutters, Munro’s crew makes regular visits to Adak during its Alaskan patrols, where mountains, trails, caribou herds, fishing alcoves and a tight-knit community make for a favorite port call among the crew. When Munro came to Adak last summer, Lt. j.g. Drew Cavanagh, Munro’s weapons officer, hand delivered four stones from the island for Ms. Nancy Jones, a native of Kodiak whose daughter Elaine Smiloff serves as the harbormaster in Adak. The stones were brought by Munro to the grave of Elaine’s father at Kodiak. Incidentally, Adak is the Aleut word for father. Mrs. Jones joined Munro’s wardroom for lunch last November, passing on her gratitude to all hands in homeport.

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