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Celebrate Coast Guard Day Aug. 4

July 25, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

-- This is the second part of a two-part series advancing Coast Guard Day by featuring U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach. This focuses on the function of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Coast Guard Day is Saturday, Aug. 4. It is held on that day to commemorate the founding of the United States Coast Guard as the Revenue Marine by then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton on Aug. 4, 1790,

U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach is located at 719 San Carlos Dr. on San Carlos Island. It has a rich history of excelling in performance and exceeding mission excellence standards, highlighted by receiving its third consecutive Kimball Award, a bi-annual readiness and standardization assessment award, last November. Only a small percentage of that particular military branch's shore-based boat force units in the nation have accomplished such a feat.

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Robert W. DePuy, the founding commander for Flotilla 91 on Fort Myers Beach, retired after 20 years of volunteer service.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach Auxiliary is a volunteer group of men and women who donate their time and effort to in aiding the U.S. Coast Guard. While the Auxiliary's main mission involves recreational boating, auxiliarists perform a wide range of duties including vessel safety and commercial fishing vessel examinations, private aids to navigation verifications, program dealer visits and marine safety education.

The Auxiliary adds value to the function of the U.S. Coast Guard. As of November 2011, 594 Auxiliary members supported the local Guard in Division 9, which comprises local flotillas in Rotunda West, Port Charlotte, North Port, Cape Coral, Upper Caloosahatchee, Fort Myers Beach, Wiggins Pass, Naples and Marco Island. The area of responsibility consists of hundreds of miles of coastline stretching from Charlotte Harbor to the north and Rabbit Key in the Everglades to the south.

In an average year nationwide, Coast Guard Auxiliary members provide 4.5 million volunteer hours, save 800 lives, assist 13,000 people in distress, protect $92 million in property, conduct 2,000 commercial fishing examinations, conduct more than 86,000 marine dealer visits, conducts 16,6000 public education sessions, teaches 2,800 boating safety courses, and provide 4,000 vessel facilities and 240 air facilities to the Coast Guard. They are also known for their public affairs work, legislative outreach and recruiting skills.

Volunteer retires after 20 years of selfless service

It started like any other day in July 1992, when Robert W. DePuy joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Like many others, his participated in a safe boating class and found that it looked like fun while helping others at the same time. This began a journey that lasted 20 years.

Bob came from the Navy where he served for four years plus another 26 years in the reserve from 1958 thru 1988 in the dental corps reaching the rank of Captain. During his tenure with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, he collected many accolades including three awards for the Auxiliary Commandant Letter of Commendation; Auxiliary Meritorious Service Award; Operational Excellence Award; seven awards for Operational Service; six awards for Auxiliary Public Education; eight awards for Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation; three Coast Guard Unit Commendation Awards, Department of Transportation Outstanding Unit Award; Presidential Unit Citation; 10 Sustained Auxiliary Service Awards; two Transportation 911 Ribbons and the 2008 George W. Bush Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

Bob served in many leadership positions in the Coast Guard Auxiliary on the local and division levels including Staff Officer Positions, Flotilla Vice-Commander and Flotilla Commander and is the Founding Commander for Flotilla 91 on Fort Myers Beach.

Bob was part of many exciting projects while on Fort Myers Beach, including the role of a "bad guy" target boat for the filming of America's most wanted and went on to be the lead instructor with the Department of State and Defense "Enduring Friendship Initiative" where he personally lead classes for participants from the countries of Bahamas, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Panama. Bob volunteered for more than 12,250 hours, which places a value to his service to the US Coast Guard around $250,000. David Schwartz, the current Flotilla Commander, stated, "Bob Depuy has devoted a major portion of his life to service for our country, including a career in the U.S. Naval Reserve and 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He has truly earned the title of an "American Patriot".

Petty Officer Buckley from Coast Guard station Fort Myers Beach added, "Captain DePuy's contribution to station Fort Myers Beach and the Coast Guard Auxiliary is unmatched. We at Station Fort Myers Beach would be grateful if Captain DePuy would accept a sincere thank you from all of us."

Robert DePuy resides in Cape Coral with his lovely wife Lee and three daughters and plans on doing a little relaxing and some fishing.

--submitted by Dan Eaton



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