Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Celebrates 50 Years of Serving the Area

by Mar 16, 2017Across the Cape Fear, Brunswick County, South Brunswick

Not just for a single day, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5 is celebrating its golden anniversary for the entire month of May. In a major exhibit at the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, the Flotilla will commemorate fifty years of service to the area.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5, one of the largest and most active Auxiliary flotillas on the East Coast, was established in January 1967. For the past fifty years, Auxiliarists have provided free vessel safety checks, water safety patrols, and boating classes. Flotilla 10-5 provides these valuable resources from the North Carolina-South Carolina border, near Calabash and Sunset Beach, to the railroad bridge over the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC.

USCG Flotilla in Oak Island

The Free Vessel Safety Check program has been active since the founding of USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5 in 1967. Here in May 1987, a team of trained Vessel Examiners break for a photo. Left to right: Auxiliarists Ashe, St. Andre, Ungate, Sweeney and Hewitt. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“These [vessel safety checks] are a great way to make sure you are in compliance with all state and federal safety requirements,” says Glenn McVicker, Public Affairs Officer for Flotilla 10-5. “You can make an appointment for an examiner to come to you.”

On April 21, 2015, Auxiliarists Fred Robertie and Floyd McLeroy visited the Kindergartens at Bellville Elementary School to teach the Water n’ Kids program, assisted by charts and hands-on equipment such as life jackets. The importance of this public education program to the maritime community is reflected in the partnership built between Flotilla 10-5, the Brunswick County Schools and Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. (photo by Dawn Smith)

Activities of the Flotilla 10-5 aren’t just limited to vessel checks and water safety. Auxiliary members train with the US Coast Guard to assist in search and rescue patrols, act as Homeland Security patrols, and inspect and verify buoys and markers, among many other responsibilities.

USCG Flotilla Oak Island

December 1988 USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5 membership meeting lead by Coy Hewitt, Flotilla Commander. Special guests from Division 10 were Auxiliarists Roger and Hanna Cram. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Eighty-six citizen members currently put on a uniform to serve the country at the Southport-Oak Island Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5, including husband and wife team Butch and Rhonda Willette, long-time members who have served in many positions both appointed and elected since 2008. They have volunteered over three thousand hours in their eight years of service.

“Being an Auxiliary member is very rewarding knowing we’re preventing accidents,” says Butch Willette. “Even if we can prevent one mishap, then we’ve done our job.”

For Rhonda, the most rewarding experience is teaching young children about water safety through the Water N’ Kids program for elementary students in Brunswick County Public Schools. “I enjoy their eyes, their ears, and their insightful comments,” she says.

On May 15, 2014, Auxiliarist Carol Urgola stands tow watch aboard the facility “My Way”, which is acting as a disabled vessel, as the crew facilitates a towing exercise on the Cape Fear River for the active duty personnel from USCG Station Oak Island. Having Auxiliary facilities and qualified crew available to assist in active duty exercises saves the Coast Guard funds and enables completion of other activities by active duty personnel. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. (photo by Dawn Smith)

Anyone interested in membership and serving may attend a monthly meeting the third Tuesday of each month at USCG Station Oak Island, or contact the flotilla at for more information.

The month-long commemoration exhibit covers a historical timeline of the flotilla’s local activities on and off the water. The cornerstone programs, which make the Coast Guard Auxiliary a unique volunteer experience, are also featured. The museum is located at 204 E. Moore St. in downtown Southport.

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