Bosuns Complete Recertification, Cement Legacy

 

September 2015

 

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Six SIU bosuns recently came together as a class to better themselves professionally when they returned to the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Education and Training for recertification in July. Like those in the classes before them, each mariner faced this challenge head on, with the only source of consternation coming in the form of speeches given at the conclusion of the course.

 

The six Seafarers who recertified are Tar Ahmed, Don Ackerman, William Yurick, Wayne Green, Lech Jankowski, and Adrian Jones. These men formed a close bond while sharpening their skills and becoming better acquainted with the SIU’s history and inner workings. Their classes covered many topics, some new to them and some refresher material, including vessel security and safety training, conflict resolution, communication skills and more. The three-week course is the highest deckdepartment training available at the Piney Point, Maryland, school.

 

During their graduation speeches, given during the August membership meeting, the bosuns saluted both the union and the school. Their heartfelt remarks reflected the wisdom and experience of seasoned bosuns as they also offered advice to the apprentices along with reminders of how much the union counts on support from the membership.

 

Don Ackerman

Ackerman was the first to deliver his graduation speech. His words reflected his 25 years as a union man and his gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him. Though he kept his speech short, it was clear that he truly meant every word.

 

“During my career, I’ve made good money, visited 30 different foreign ports and was able to support my family, all thanks to the union,” he stated.

 

He continued, offering his thanks to the staff and faculty at the Paul Hall Center, before addressing SIU President Michael Sacco.

 

“President Sacco, you’ve kept the wolves from our heels, the enemy from our walls, and we thank you,” he said. “We’re all better off with you as our leader…. I’m proud to be a union member and to stand with you all.”

 

Lech Jankowski

Next to the microphone was Jankowski.

 

“I joined the SIU in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1999,” he said. “Since then, I’ve sailed around the world a couple of times, and the union has remained important in my life.”

 

He reiterated how thankful he was to the union before addressing the students in the auditorium. “To the trainees: Study hard, work hard, and learn to work as a team. Remember to pay your dues, and contribute to SPAD.”

 

Jankowski would not be the last bosun to remind students about the Seafarers Political Activity Donation, or SPAD. The day was filled with a uniform message to all members: Donating to the SIU’s voluntary political action fund is a critical way to help ensure the future of the organization, because the maritime industry is so heavily regulated.

 

He added, “My experience at Piney Point has been very rewarding, and I’m proud to be a Seafarer.”

 

Adrian Jones

Jones offered his insight as a 15- year union member. As a U.S. Navy veteran prior to joining the SIU, Jones had a unique perspective to share with the crowd.

 

“I didn’t come into the union like you trainees. I came in through the veterans’ program, and I’d like to thank that program for giving me this opportunity,” he said. (SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez added to this point after Jones’ speech, pointing out that in addition to having a veterans’ component in the apprentice program, the union and school are very active in the ongoing series of nationwide “Military to Maritime” events sponsored by the American Maritime Partnership.)

 

Jones continued, discussing his career as a mariner.

 

“In the Navy, I saw one half of the world for 20 years. In the SIU, I’m now seeing the other half,” he said. “Since I’ve been with the union I’ve made good money and done nothing but prosper.”

 

Additionally, he talked about the recently completed upgrades to the facilities at the Paul Hall Center. “The simulator has come a long way since I first trained here,” he said, retelling a story about how he crashed the simulated vessel during his first training in 1999. “I commend you on the stateof- the-art facilities you now have.”

 

He concluded with advice to the apprentices: “Out there at sea, you only have each other, and that’s what the SIU is all about: unity.”

 

Tar Ahmed

Ahmed, who joined in 1987 at the Port of Tacoma, was the next speaker. He began by offering a disclaimer: “I am not a public speaker, or a comedian, but I am an SIU mariner, and proud of it.”

 

He continued on the theme of pride, discussing in brief one of his most memorable trips in his career: “One thing I am very proud of is a rescue that I was a part of while aboard the Horizon Reliance.”

 

This incident, which was reported in the March 2012 issue of the Seafarers LOG, involved a disabled sailboat and the successful rescue of three individuals – including a 9-year old boy. The crew of the Horizon Reliance saved the sailors’ lives that night, as the doomed sailboat eventually sank into the rough seas.

 

After reminiscing, Ahmed offered some advice to the trainees: “If you’re on a ship with me, I will be watching you. But I’ll also be helping you along the way. Pay attention to what your instructors are trying to teach you, and learn from them. And remember, contribute to SPAD.”

 

Wayne Green

The penultimate speaker, Green talked about his experiences sailing with the SIU, and how he has had an accomplished and lucrative career.

 

“My experience with employment while in the SIU has been great. In my career, the longest I’ve ever had to wait for work through the hall since acquiring my ‘B’ book was five days,” he stated. This kind of continuous employment is possible thanks in part to political action, including SPAD, he added.

 

He also spoke to the trainees directly. “Set goals for yourself, not just long-term ones but short-term goals as well,” Green said. “And when you’re out there, looking for a ship to workon, just take anything that comes your way. Don’t be picky, just do the work. And remember to contribute to SPAD.”

 

William Yurick

Bolstered by the cheers of his friends in the audience, Yurick was the last to take the stage. The bosun from Philadelphia began by showing his school spirit, shouting out his apprentice graduating class number, “Class Number 601, from the year 2000.” He then spoke from the heart about what the SIU means to him.

 

“I’ve upgraded a few times at our beautiful school, and it’s a great honor to be standing here as a recertified bosun in the SIU,” Yurick said.

 

He continued, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life.”

 

Yurick then spoke to fellow members about the relationship between union officials and rank-and-file Seafarers: “Whatever we do for our officials – phone calls, letters to Congress, and so on – it’s always beneficial for our members.” Those tasks help pave the way for more jobs, political reform, and even higher wages, he said.

 

Later, Yurick addressed the trainees. “What is important is to ask questions while you’re here, and listen to what they’re telling you,” he advised. “And once you get out there, you need to stay positive, and stay focused.”

 

He closed the recertification speeches with the following sentiment, which really summarized the camaraderie shown by this group of bosuns: “Last but not least, I’d like to thank these five brothers that I’ve met here at the school. Now, let’s get to work, boys.”

 

Brick Donation Helps Cement Bosuns’ Legacy

 

They may have departed from the Paul Hall Center shortly after graduating on Aug. 3, but the union’s newest class of recertified bosuns left a permanent reminder of their recent stay at the Piney Point, Maryland, school.

 

The six Seafarers donated a commemorative brick for the Paul Hall Center’s waterfront park, thereby becoming the first group of recertified members to do so. The engraved bricks are part of the waterfront restoration project; they’re placed on a walkway.

 

Asked why they decided to donate a brick, the bosuns enthusiastically offered several reasons including a show of unity, leaving their legacy, inspiring others, and being the first recertification class to make such a move.

 

As previously reported, proceeds from brick donations have been used to help offset some of the costs of the overall restoration (a multimillion dollar endeavor). However, the larger aim is to beautify the area while giving people an opportunity to share memories and honor others in a lasting way.

 

More information on how to donate a brick is available on the SIU home page (www.seafarers.org) and at every SIU hall. Questions may be sent via email to siubricks@seafarers.org

 


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