Changing of the Guard at STA Port O’Connor by Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: Announcements, Events, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 20 Jul 17 - 0 Comments
Coast Guard Senior Chief Martin (left) and Retiring Senior Chief DeSanno (right)

Coast Guard Senior Chief Martin (left) and Retiring Senior Chief DeSanno (right)

The Port O’Connor US Coast Guard Station celebrated the retirement of Senior Chief Jamie L. DeSanno and the Change of Command welcoming Senior Chief Joshua L. Martin at a formal ceremony on Friday, June 30, 2017. The ceremony is a time-honored tradition that involves the whole station crew, the families and dignitaries as command, responsibilities and authorities transfer from one commander to another. The program was impressive, containing both military crispness and Coast Guard pride as one Senior Chief retired and another ‘took the watch’ at our busy station. The Coast Guard motto is Semper Peratus, meaning Always Ready. The Port O’Connor Coast Guard Station, STA Port O’Connor as they call out, is indeed ready. One capable Senior Chief stepped down, and a new one was there and prepared to step in and begin his command. It was a beautifully executed maneuver.

A large white tent and precise rows of white chairs arranged before a raised platform set the stage outside for the ceremony where locals and Coast Guard guests gathered. Military music filled the air prior to the ceremony and speeches and presentations directed by master of ceremonies Chief Boatswain’s Mate Dennis D. Baker.
Following the ceremony, a lovely reception was served inside the station where guests and officials alike could greet the new command and wish the old well. Security regulations made this an invitation only event and guardsmen manned the gate as guests entered and exited. The station looked as ship shape as always but was beautifully decorated for this special occasion.  Every Coast Guard member wore their tropical blue dress uniforms and white uniform hats, perfectly shined shoes and an air of pride as they stood at attention for the ceremony and took seats in the tent area when commanded to for the awards and speeches. The STA Port O’Connor Crew and visitors mingled with visitors and shared in the day.

The retirement of Senior Chief DeSanno is well earned after 23 years of service. He, his wife and 3 children have moved six times, relocated home, school, life and all that goes with it in service to our country. DeSanno’s decorated career included Oregon, California, Washington, Panama Canal, Canada and Texas, numerous ships and ports, stations and crews where he not only served honorably, but rose through the ranks receiving numerous commendations, awards and recognitions and forging friendships and working partnerships which led to his admirable career achievement.

As Senior Chief DeSanno entered the ceremony, he greeted each sailor and staffer personally with a handshake, a smile, a personal anecdote. As his retirement was announced, he was described as a great coach and a stellar commander.

Assigned to POC in June 2011; DeSanno has led our station though major renovations and station additions, numerous improvements and repairs and updates, and built obvious rapport with his crew while carrying out the duties he is assigned such as more than 2000 search and rescue missions, hundreds of enforcement missions, illegal entry boarding, drug and smuggling searches, and copious numbers of other Coast Guard Duties. He was lauded for hands on training, effective oversight and empowering support of his station crew. Sailors’ folklore says it is bad luck for the sailor’s shadow to touch land before he does, so old sailors were presented a ‘shadow’ box on land symbolizing their shadow arriving before them as they retired from a ship to avoid the bad luck. In keeping with that lore, DeSanno was presented with a beautiful traditional sailor’s shadow box displaying awards and memorabilia built, assembled and presented by his mates and crew as history dictates. No bad luck for this retiring sailor. Sector Commander Captain Tony Hahn of Corpus Christi and Chief Boatswain Mate Dennis Baker of POC Station cited Senior Chief DeSanno’s long list of earned honors, laughed at his human side of commanding even joking about his unparalleled lawn cutting skills that earned him a decidedly non-military Angie’s List Award, and shared a few sad moments as they wished him Fair Winds, Fallowing Seas and God Bless. It was obvious he will be missed and hoped that they would see him in POC as DeSanno and his family will pursue civilian life in Victoria, Texas.

The POC Station had big shoes to fill, but ready for the job and accepting command from departing DeSanno is Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joshua Martin. Martin, of Bloomington, Indiana has served the US Coast Guard 20 years in posts including Hawaii, Iraq, Maryland, California, Kentucky, Ohio and now Texas. His wife and 3 children and new Coast Guard Granddaughter have moved 8 times and are old pros at relocating. They will be firmly positioned to carry on in no time. Martin is also a highly decorated guardsman with a long list of awards and commendations and multiple insignias. He is looking forward to serving the POC station and has some big plans. Welcome to STA Port O’Connor Senior Chief Joshua Martin. We look forward to your watch.

The families were honored and the retiring DeSanno had a few heartfelt words to say. He reminded us that families serve right along with our military men and women. We owe them all our gratitude for their sacrifice and their service to our country. After presentation of sprays of yellow roses to the wives and single stems roses to the children, the official change of command was a simple phrase and a shake of hands and the new commander ‘has the watch’. But on this formal and meaningful day as they do every day, some of our Coast Guardsmen and women were not at the ceremony but up above keeping an eagle eye and an exacting ear on the ICW. The STA Port O’Connor always has the watch.

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