Boy with Tumor Honored as Coast Guard Shipmate

He was a skipper for only a day, but he’s a shipmate forever.

Ethen Richardson is an 8-year-old boy with an amazing spirit and contagious smile. In July, doctors diagnosed Ethen with an inoperable tumor on his brain stem. As Ethen battled his illness, the local community wanted to lift his spirits and show their support.

Members from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium teamed up to provide Ethen behind-the-scenes access to the aquarium and what it’s like to be part of the Coast Guard for the day.

Ethen and his family began the day at the aquarium, where he was greeted by the staff and treated to a behind-the-scenes tour. During the tour, Ethen interacted with the aquarium staff and learned about taking care of all of the animals in the aquarium, including stops at the top of the great ocean tank and providing enrichment for the resident octopus. Ethen also visited recovering sea turtles in South Carolina’s only sea turtle hospital. The final stop on the tour included a visit to the gift shop where Ethen was able to choose items of his liking, courtesy of the aquarium and its staff.

After the aquarium tour, it was time for some Coast Guard action! Ethen and his family boarded a Coast Guard rescue boat for a patrol inside Charleston harbor. Ethen assumed the duties of flotilla commander during the ride, coordinating other boats from Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Charleston Police Department, Mount Pleasant Police Department, North Charleston Police Department, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, North Charleston Fire Department, Charleston County Rescue and St. John’s Fire Department. Ethen then piloted the small boat to the waiting Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin.

Aboard the Yellowfin, Ethen learned more about life aboard a patrol boat and Yellowfin’s missions, including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and port security. Ethen then took over as the ship’s “skipper” – or captain of the boat – and finished the harbor patrol before returning to the Coast Guard base in downtown Charleston.

The day culminated with a special ceremony honoring Ethen’s flawless seamanship while serving as the flotilla commander. The Low Country Chief’s Mess advanced Ethen to the rank of chief petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and presented him with his anchors.

Glad to have you as a shipmate, Chief Petty Officer Ethen Richardson!

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