Lions hear program by US Coast Guard Auxiliary member

Tony Belat of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was the speaker at the Alpena Lions meeting recently. He provided the club with a complete review of the auxiliary’s history, purpose and activities.

Program chair for the meeting was Alden Kirschner, who served 35 years in the auxiliary but is now retired.

The auxiliary, Belat reported, is a volunteer organization that assists the U.S. Coast Guard in all its duties, except law enforcement. Volunteers must be U.S. citizens, at least 17 years old, and must be able to perform certain physical tasks. There are no minimum service hours; a volunteer can serve as little or as much as he/she wants; and volunteers receive no pay for their services.

It has been operating here in Alpena 73 years, since 1943. Nation-wide the auxiliary currently operates in all states and has 30,000 members; it is the smallest military operation in the nation. Members are always undergoing training both in classes and online.

Services provided include search and rescue, disaster response, vessel exams, recreational security, and providing advice and information. Belat noted that last year the Alpena Auxiliary assisted the Coast Guard in 18 rescue missions. He also explained the auxiliary’s air patrol services which have been provided locally for many years by Lion Dr. Robert Currier.