Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick

Written by Lt. j.g. Hailey Thompson

Less than a year has passed since the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick took to the sea and traveled 6,200 miles from Key West, Florida, to its homeport of Ketchikan, Alaska. Despite the long trip and drastic change of climate, the crew’s performance remained intact.

This resilience was recognized by the Douglas Munro Chapter of the Surface Navy Association that awarded the crew of the cutter John McCormick with the 2017 Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (small cutter) in conjunction with the 2018 Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Washington, D.C., Jan. 11, 2018.

“It is truly an honor for the crew of the John McCormick to be recognized for this prestigious award, especially considering the accomplishments over this calendar year while serving the great state of Alaska,” said Lt. Mike Moyseowicz, commanding officer of the cutter.

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick crewmembers receive 2017 Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (small cutter).

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick crewmembers receive 2017 Hopley Yeaton Cutter Excellence Award (small cutter).

The crew’s efforts beat out the competition of more than 150 cutters in the “small cutter” category.

“More than anything, this award is about the crew, all of whom sacrificed so many nights away from home in service to their country,” said Moyseowicz. “None of this would have been possible without their exceptional professionalism, teamwork and dedication to serving others.”

Before the cutter arrived in Alaska, the crew successfully completed the voyage from Florida to Alaska, making the John McCormick the first cutter of its class to transit the Panama Canal and operate in the Pacific Ocean. During the transit, the crew made great efforts to honor the service’s legacy and pay homage to a Coast Guard hero when they visited Astoria, Ore., where much of John McCormick’s family still resides.

As the cutter passed over the Columbia River Bar, Linda Jarmer, the cutter’s sponsor and granddaughter of John McCormick, stood side-by-side with the crew as they passed the spot of her grandfather’s heroic rescue nearly 79 years earlier. The crew capped off the special day by hosting 30 of John McCormick’s family members aboard the ship, further cementing the bond between the crew and the namesake’s family.

Upon the cutter John McCormick arriving in Ketchikan, the crew rapidly established themselves as highly proficient and devoted to their duties. In their first six months of operations, they impacted living marine resources enforcement by completing 77 boardings. The crew honored John McCormick’s legacy as a lifesaver, showing tremendous dedication and resilience in five search and rescue operations. They responded to multiple cases of vessels taking on water in gale force winds and freezing rain and towed disabled fishing boats in remote areas of the harsh Alaskan environment, ultimately saving or assisting 10 lives and over $1.2 million in property.

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick conducts training with Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crew in Sitka Sound.

Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick conducts training with Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter crew in Sitka Sound.

Throughout the cutter’s initial transit to Ketchikan and during mid-patrol port calls to Alaskan villages and towns, the crew developed strong ties to local communities. They coordinated port visits with mayors, tribal leaders, school officials and other dignitaries; organized community service events in the remote Alaskan community of Kake; and welcomed over 1,800 citizens aboard to tour the Coast Guard’s newest asset in Alaska.

“A tremendous amount of teamwork from our crew went into us being nominated to receive the Hopley Yeaton award,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Lotz, a boatswain’s mate aboard the 154-foot cutter. “The award has been a great honor and a true testament to the dedication of the members aboard the John McCormick.”

The John McCormick is the Coast Guard’s 21st commissioned Fast Response Cutter. The Sentinel-class fast response cutter is the new Coast Guard patrol boat designed for multiple missions, including drug and migrant interdiction; ports, waterways and coastal security; fishery patrols; search and rescue; and national defense.

The cutter’s namesake is Boatswain John McCormick, who as officer-in-charge of the wooden 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph out of Station Point Adams, Oregon, on the Columbia River, saved a crewman who was thrown overboard March 26, 1938. McCormick maneuvered the lifeboat against a strong current and into the breakers to pick up the drowning man. He received the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his actions that day.

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