Standing on the 17th Street Pier in Astoria, Ore., you’ll witness the ebb and flow of a bustling maritime community as fishermen prepare for the days catch and tug and pilot boats set out to safeguard commercial ships.
But there’s a new addition to the pier in the form of a simple black granite slab. The monument is plain but what it stands for is a rich respect and partnership that has lasted for generations. Six words are etched in the granite to symbolize this respect – Astoria an official Coast Guard City.
The city of Astoria unveiled this monument last week commemorating its designation as a Coast Guard city. Astoria was officially recognized as a Coast Guard city by Congress during the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2011, but the newly erected monument, located outside the Columbia River Maritime Museum, serves as a permanent reminder of the strong relationship between the Coast Guard and the people of Oregon’s northwest coast.
Astoria is home to more than 2,000 members of team Coast Guard, including active duty, reserve, civilian, auxiliary and families. In fact, Coast Guard men and women perform their missions from almost every type of Coast Guard unit. There are two medium endurance cutters, a sea-going buoy tender, an air station, an aids to navigation team, a motor lifeboat station, a sector, an electronic support detachment and a buoy depot.
As if that’s not enough, the region’s unique climate and geography also attracts both air and afloat crews for invaluable training via Advanced Helicopter Rescue School and the National Motor Lifeboat School. These units are all strategically located at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River; an indication of the high value the Coast Guard places on this important maritime region.
But it’s not just the weather and environment that makes the community ideal; it’s the people. From towboat operators to fisherman who call Astoria home, everyone in the community maintains a connection with area Coast Guard units.
“In my 18 years of service and nine permanent change of station moves, the city of Astoria has been, by far, the most welcoming city for me and my family,” said Cmdr. Lee Mynatt, who commanded Coast Guard Cutter Alert in 2010. “The city of Astoria and surrounding towns have been exceptionally supportive of the Coast Guard and our servicemembers.”
The town of close to 10,000 residents boasts what Capt. Bruce Jones, commander of Sector Columbia River, calls a city with a “welcoming attitude.”
“Astoria is a great place to raise a family, an important place to perform our Coast Guard missions and a place where Coast Guard men and women feel welcome as part of the community,” said Jones.
Astoria joins only 13 other cities across the United States, including Newport, Ore., as an official Coast Guard city. The town is proud of this fact and perhaps no one said it better than state Sen. Betsy Johnson. Echoing Astoria mayor Willis L. Van Dusen, Johnson ended the ceremony by simply saying, “We like the Navy but we love the Coast Guard.”