Guardians Of Nation’s Shoreline Drop Anchor In Canarsie
By Neil S. Friedman
Ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, homeland security has become a domestic priority and our nation’s safekeeping has dramatically increased. A major part of that expansion has affected the principal mission of United States Coast Guard, the nation’s oldest maritime agency that guards America’s shorelines and harbors.
As part of the Coast Guard’s progress, it has stepped up its recruiting efforts nationwide. To that end, the smallest of America’s armed services opened its first recruiting office in Brooklyn last week at 7806 Flatlands Avenue.
Presiding over the ceremony, which included a ribbon cutting to officially open the recruiting office, was Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins, who was joined by several high-ranking officers, and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Preceding the invocation by Grace Church Pastor Kenneth Griepp, an Honor Guard presented the colors, which was followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Chief Petty Officer Pierre Funderburk.
Later, Markowitz presented a proclamation to Rear Admiral Kenneth Venuto, declaring October 23, 2003, Coast Guard Day in Brooklyn.
Admiral Collins, a 1968 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy who assumed command of the Coast Guard eighteen months ago, addressed the modest audience explaining why Canarsie was selected for the borough’s first recruiting office. "We selected a community where our research showed we can expect to find a diverse population and one with a propensity to serve."
Brooklyn’s relationship with the maritime service began in 1938 when a Coast Guard Air Station opened at Floyd Bennett Field, a few miles southwest of Canarsie. During that period, a Coast Guard officer and Igor Sikorsky designed and developed the Sikorsky XR-4 helicopter, a major advancement in rotary-wing aviation, on the site. The air station was decommissioned in 1998 and reestablished in southern New Jersey.
Since 9/11, the Coast Guard has added over three thousand new recruits. Currently, 35,000 men and women are on active duty with another 8,000 assigned to the Coast Guard Reserve.