SIU members recently received accolades for their respective roles in three different rescues that took place earlier this year.
Bosun Paul Altenor was one of three mariners who, on behalf of themselves and their shipmates, accepted the Maritime Administration’s Merchant Marine Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Orlando, Florida. The ceremony took place Nov. 1 as part of a joint meeting of the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA). SIU President David Heindel and SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez attended the ceremony.
The three rescues (extensively reported in prior editions of the LOG) involved the SIU-crewed Overseas Santorini, Overseas Nikiski, and Overseas Long Beach, all operated by OSG.
“The ceremony was great,” Altenor said. “I really appreciated getting to talk to [SIU President David Heindel] and [OSG President and CEO Sam Norton]. They were both really appreciative of our efforts during the rescue.”
Altenor was aboard the Santorini on May 30 when he and his fellow mariners rescued a family of four (including two children) whose sailboat was leaking in the middle of the Atlantic. Reflecting on the experience, the bosun recalled, “Every month, we do a man overboard drill. This was clearly not a man overboard, but I was prepared for it. This was my second rescue attempt, but my first one involving a sailboat, which made it a little different. When training doesn’t cover a specific type of rescue, it takes some common sense to keep everyone safe during a rescue. You really had to stay alert, because we could have easily gotten hurt as well.”
Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips presented the awards and noted, “It is a universal connection to those at sea to come to the aid of those in distress.”
In remarks prepared for the ceremony, Heindel stated, “On behalf of the entire union, I extend my congratulations to every member who took part in the rescues. You all did a fantastic job. You put others before yourselves; you rose to the occasion; and you handled the assignments with professionalism and compassion.”
Earlier in the week, USTRANSCOM Commanding Officer Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost presented the agency’s prestigious Pegasus Award to SIU President Emeritus Michael Sacco. Heindel accepted it on Sacco’s behalf (see page 9).
The joint meeting “focused on bringing together military and industry leaders from across the globe to discuss current trends and logistics challenges,” according to USTRANSCOM. Tellez actively participated throughout the weeklong gathering.
During opening remarks for the joint meeting, Van Ovost cited teamwork between the military, commercial industry, and our nation’s allies and partners as critical: “By, with, and through our commercial teammates and allies and partners, we are underwriting the lethality of our combined forces.”
The general also highlighted the need for fleet recapitalization, pointing out the aging state of the U.S. government’s surge sealift ships: “In ten years, more than 50% will reach their end of service life.”