On the water, the U.S. Coast Guard serves first-responders during natural and man-made disasters. This month, USCG Station Indian River welcomed a new commander to continue leading the service’s mission to be “Semper Paratus” or “Always Ready” in coastal Delaware.
On June 8, outgoing Senior Chief James Pond was officially relieved of command by incoming Chief Donald Holcomb. The change-of-command ceremony allowed the crew to celebrate their outgoing boss, while meeting the new leader.
In his outgoing speech, Pond thanked the community, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and, most importantly, his staff, who he said fulfilled his mission of hard work, preparedness and teamwork.
“I know you have endured challenges, and I hope you have had fun,” Pond said. “On a daily basis, I know you are doing an outstanding job on the water and as a unit. … The recognition that I just received from the captain is based on the outstanding job that you have done every day for the past three years.”
“I’m very thankful to the community. They embrace us, everything that we do,” Pond said afterward. “This area is a very special place to be assigned. I try to do my own recruiting to get people here. It’s kind of a hidden gem in the Coast Guard. … Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to come back here, but I always steer people this way, because it’s a wonderful community.”
Following in the path of many local vacationers, Pond is departing Delaware for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, taking command of a slightly larger staff, surf and station at USCG Station Hatteras Inlet. Commanders typically have a four-year rotation, but he is advancing a year early.
Sector Capt. Scott Anderson promised the local crew a “fine boss” in Holcomb, whose prior service includes leading two units and three cutters.
“With change comes opportunity, and I know that the crew of Station Indian River will seize the opportunity and continue to serve the American people with pride and professionalism,” Anderson said.
During the ceremony, Pond jokingly handed Holcomb a cell phone.
“If anything happens, they call me,” Holcomb said afterward. “When the senior passed me the phone, that’s kind of what that signified. I get the calls now.”
Holcomb followed his father into the Coast Guard. He was raised in New England and now brings his own young family to Sussex County from New Haven, Conn.
“This is my first time in this area. But I’m enjoying this beautiful area. … I’m excited to be here,” he said.
During the ceremony, the two commanders inspected the station’s staff together. Although Holcmb’s speech was brief, he thanked the people who helped him to this new commission, and he recognized the pride displayed at Indian River.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with this fine group of professionals,” Holcomb said.
“Not a lot is going to change,” he said afterward. “We’re going to do our best to keep the boating public safe, and that’s really it — we’re just going to continue to train and do the mission.”
Officially founded in 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard traces its roots to a young United States, in 1790. They are responsible for maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship in U.S. ports and waterways. In times of war, the Coast Guard takes on a military role.
Station Indian River Inlet operates under the Delaware Bay Sector, which operates in the USCG’s Fifth District. Station Indian River includes 45 active-duty and reserve officers, plus a dog named Beefy, who serves as the station mascot.
In sweltering heat and in frigid conditions, Station Indian River oversees the water from Bower’s Beach to Fenwick Island, offshore to 30 miles, plus the Indian River Bay and the Delaware Bay.
“They successfully protected the world’s largest freshwater port — an area where disrupting the flow of marine traffic could affect commerce by up to $1,680 per second. It’s $150 million dollars a day if you stop traffic on this river and the economic impact of that,” Anderson said.
By Laura Walter