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Irene, Flooding, 9/11, and 46 trashbags

posted Oct 10, 2011, 9:55 AM by Andrew Welch   [ updated Oct 10, 2011, 9:56 AM ]
Hurricane Irene preparation at James Creek Marina

Flotilla Northern Virginia has had two OPS Weekends since my last all-hands message. The first, in August, focused on preparations for Hurricane Irene, when we were down at the waterfront working with marinas and boaters to properly and safely secure vessels and facilities for the coming storm.

The second was held over September 11 weekend. Thank you to all who stepped up, as it was our most successful OPS weekend of the year. We held a moment of remembrance at the Navy Memorial (thank you, Peter Hanke), ran patrols on 9/10 and 9/11, and a group of you participated in National Day of Service by hauling away 46 (yes, 46) bags of trash during your waterside cleanup at Jones Point (thank you, Jay King and crew). Underway, we ran a towing exercise, oversaw what (thankfully) turned out not to be a search and rescue case, were on scene to assist various boaters in distress, and patrolled our assigned security zone on the Potomac River.

Sam Tadros on the boom
Overall this year you have assisted well over 100 people, and you lead the division in mission hours logged. You have also qualified five new vessel examiners, four new crew, and two new coxswains in a four month time period.

I want to officially welcome Rob Bartolotta and Leonard Abreu to the flotillas new recruits, as well as Peter Hanke and Gary Dawson, both of whom have transferred in the last month.

As we grow and our operations and training tempo continues to quicken, please all take great care to attend to your administrative responsibilities and follow the chain of leadership. Let's not allow trivial matters to get in the way of properly executing our mission.

In closing, I want to pay special recognition to an impressive act of quick thinking that may in fact have saved lives this month. Heavy weather one night forced a patrol to not leave the pier. On his way home, Sam Tadros encountered significant flooding on the road, where motorists were trapped inside of submerged and partially submerged automobiles. By utilizing the boat tow line and life jacket in his vehicle, and moving with the current, he was able to reach the distressed persons and pull them to safety before they were taken under and carried away by the flood waters. His quick thinking and excellent knowledge of line handling, current, and boating safety led to the rescue of three persons in distress under very challenging circumstances.

To Mr. Tadros, and to all of you - thank you for your service.

Very respectfully,
Andrew Welch
Flotilla Commander