Auxiliary Coast Guard to dedicate memorial

Savannah Chastain | The Log
The local U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla will dedicate this memorial Saturday. Learn more about the organization at

“Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea,” — “Crossing the Bar,” Alfred Lord Tennyson.

In the words of the great poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, the U.S Coast Guard has adopted the phrase, “Crossing the Bar,” for those who have left this life after honorably serving in the Coast Guard.  A memorial dedication service will be held, March 8, at 9 a.m. at the Destin Coast Guard Station, for those who devoted many years of their lives to the service and have “crossed the bar” while supporting the Coast Guard mission.

“The memorial is a permanent marker,” said Flotilla Commander John Beebe, “We add a brick for those who have crossed the bar after their service time.”

At the service, family members will have the opportunity to pay respects by placing a rose on the new brick being added to the memorial. The bricks are engraved with each service member’s name and dates of life.

Two Auxiliary Coast Guard members being honored for their extraordinary service, and crossing of the bar are; Nancy Kenaston, and Lester Rowley.

Beebe shared one story from their time in the service.

“They were rescuing two individuals out from the shore after the boat sank,” he said, “Then the people came out of the brush carrying bags, which were found to be full of money, and the two were able make a radio call to the sheriff which resulted in an arrest.”

Beebe explained that Kenaston and Rowley served the on the Flotilla during the ’60s and early ’70s, prior to the construction of the Coast Guard station.

“Almost two decades before Station Destin was built in 1977, Flotilla 14 was the Coast Guard presence in our local waters and performed all sorts of duties and search and rescue missions,” Beebe said.

He further explained that the Auxiliary Coast Guard now works hand in hand with the Coast Guard at Station Destin and are given the same training and legal authority as the Coast Guard.

“The only difference is that we do not engage in ‘direct’ law enforcement or military engagement,” Beebe explained, “We do not get paid a salary…but are allowed to get standard reimbursement, death and disability benefits, the same as active duty service members. This is what makes us unique amongst all branches of the services.”

Kenaston, a former editor at the Playground Daily News, and Rowley are two of six distinguished service members being memorialized in this inaugural service. Others being honored in the dedication are Bruce A. Wolverton, Richard Break, James Avery, and Commodore William E. Crouch Jr.

“I can't even begin to tell you what an honor and privilege it is to be able to wear the uniform,” said Beebe, “To follow the in the footsteps of those before us and be of service to our fellow Americans.”