The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, August 28, 2015, Image 29

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    C ontinued From page 7
here are now 500 active
duty members, 105 re-
serve members, 29 civil-
ians and 890 auxiliary on
the North Coast. On these
waters, Coasties are best
known for enforcing fish-
ery laws, repairing aids to
navigation and — per-
haps their most valued mission — performing
search and rescue operations.
Astoria’s proximity to the Columbia River
makes it a favorable location for centralizing
Coast Guard activities. Among the 11 river
bars in Sector Columbia River, the wide Co-
lumbia River Bar has the most consistent surf
and the most areas to practice water rescues
and airlifts, Capt. Daniel Travers, the sector
commander, said.
“This has just some of the best weather for
training Coasties that you can possibly imag-
ine,” he said.
And — unlike members of Department of
Defense services, who must often wait for war
to break out before putting their training into
practice — “we live our mission every day,” he
said. “I don’t have to pray for it to happen; it’s
just there all the time.”
Blending in
Out of uniform, Coasties tend to blend into
the community. “We become part of the fabric
of Astoria,” Travers said.
“Most Coast Guard units count on the com-
munity for their lifestyle,” said Mark Dobney,
a retired warrant boatswain who rejoined the
service as a full-time civilian controller in the
There are now
500 active duty
members, 105
reserve members,
29 civilians and
USCG HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter: On the tarmac at Air Station Astoria. — ALEX PAJANAS PHOTO
air station command center. “We use local doc-
tors, local hospitals or medical services for our
families, if not for ourselves, and it depends on
what’s available.”
Whereas Defense Department military serv-
ices have self-contained bases with commerce
exchanges and medical facilities, Coast Guard
units are generally too small to justify the same
sprawling infrastructure.
Though the Coast Guard has an exchange at
West Marine Drive with uniforms available
and limited grocery options, Coasties are more
likely to shop at area retailers. And though
many service members live in government-
owned housing units behind Tapiola Park,
many choose to lodge in regular residences.
“Coast Guard people and families live off of
what’s around, and they enjoy and support
local businesses,” Dobney said.
Little things have helped Astoria grow, and
the Coast Guard’s integration with the commu-
nity is one of them. If, say, five new Coast
Guard families arrive in town, “that’s five more
incomes that are coming into the community,”
(503) 325-4341
95 Hamburg Ave., Astoria
8 • Safeguarding Our Coast: U.S. Coast Guard 2015
he said. “Those little growths, which are be-
hind the scenes, really do help the community,”
‘We love the Coast Guard’
Former Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen
takes offense, however, when anyone tells him
how lucky the city is to have the Coast Guard
payroll boosting the economy — as if service
members’ spending habits signified their great-
est contribution.
“That’s such an insult. That irritates me so
deeply because the men and women (of the
Coast Guard) are willing to risk their lives to
save our lives, or to save our property,” he said.
“The payroll is nice; that is the last thing on my
mind. Astoria’s just a better place to live in be-
cause of the Coast Guard.”
Though the city, almost without exception,
embraces the Coast Guard, Astoria, for many
service members, is still a two-to-three-year
adventure en route to the next one.
890 auxiliary on
the North Coast.
On these waters
they are are best
known for
enforcing fishery
laws, repairing
aids to navigation
and performing
search and rescue
Continued on page 9
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