Training Director J.C. Wiegman Retires

 

April 2015

 

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With just a few hours left in his final day on the job, the longtime director of training at the SIU’s affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland, didn’t pretend to be unemotional.

 

“It’s been more difficult than I thought it was going to be,” said J.C. Wiegman, who worked at the school since the late 1980s. “It’s hard saying goodbye to all these people. This has been my whole life.”

 

Nevertheless, Wiegman, who’ll turn 67 this summer, decided he wanted to spend more time with his eight grandchildren and other family members. He finished his duties at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education on Feb. 27.

 

Paul Hall Center Vice President Don Nolan described Wiegman as “instrumental in all phases of training throughout the school, both vocational and academic. His communications with the Coast Guard, the Military Sealift Command and other agencies was vital for us, and he also did a great job with our veterans program. J.C. was a great employee and a great friend. He’ll be missed.”

 

Paul Hall Center Assistant Vice President Bart Rogers worked with Wiegman throughout his career at the school.

 

“J.C. was loyal, dedicated and knowledgeable,” Rogers stated. “J.C. was the kind of guy who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He did whatever needed to be done to make sure the school ran efficiently.”

 

Rogers added that Wiegman’s detailed knowledge of the maritime industry’s myriad training requirements “kept us way ahead of schedule all of the time, long before you were required to be compliant. He kept us abreast of all the changes, going back to the training record book and most recently the (STCW) final rule.”

 

Wiegman’s connection to Piney Point began long before the school opened there in 1967. He grew up in the small town (its population today is still fewer than 1,000), and his father worked at the facility when it was a torpedo testing center.

 

Wiegman joined the Navy in 1966 and retired after 21 years. After moving his family back to southern Maryland, he got a job at the Paul Hall Center’s Lundeberg School in 1989, working in the maintenance department for the late Sam Spalding.

 

“Big Sam was quick to tell me the job didn’t pay anything and I was overqualified,” Wiegman remembered. “I don’t think Sam ever believed that this was my home; benefits and money were really secondary.”

 

Soon, Wiegman began teaching deck, engine and safety classes.

 

“I could write a book on the changes in training that began in the 1990s,” he said. “In the early 90s, oil and pollution prevention were impacting the industry. A program for tanker safety operations was put in place. This course became the industry standard before the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 came out in regulation. It was also a key event in my career because my boss, the late Bill Eglinton, tasked me with going to the Coast Guard and getting a grandfathering provision for (the) tanker assistant-dangerous liquids class. Going to the National Maritime Center, I met and learned to work with them, opening lines of communication.”

 

Other milestones for the school during his career cited by Wiegman included it becoming a degree-granting institution; the additions of many STCW-compliant courses; the opening of the Joseph Sacco Fire Fighting and Safety School; and the installations of various simulators.

 

“I will miss the students most of all,” Wiegman added. “I will also miss the instructional staff who made every morning an adventure. They are the most talented people you will find in maritime. I would be remiss in not remembering the staff that’s no longer with us: Casey Taylor, Larry Malone, Sam Spalding, Tom Gilliland, Bobby Dean, John Smith and many others.”

 

Asked about his immediate plans, Wiegman said he truly didn’t know, other than spending time with family.

 

“I’ve never not worked,” he stated. “My wife and I are going to do a little travelling to see grandchildren, and she and I are going to learn to live with each other after 45 years of marriage…. I could give you 1,000 things that I’ve thought about doing, but I don’t have a plan other than whatever years I have left, it’s going to be around family.”

 

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