Park Event to Honor Coast Guard in Sitka

By SHANNON HAUGLAND

Sentinel Staff Writer

A Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter will land on the Kimsham athletic field at 11 a.m. Friday, kicking off the start of a community celebration of Sitka as a Coast Guard City.

The city-sponsored event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will include hot dogs and other food as the city recognizes the contributions to the community by members of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, the USCG Cutter Kukui, Aids to Navigation Team Sitka, Marine Safety Detachment Sitka, and the Electronic Support Detachment Detail.

After landing, the Jayhawk will be on display on the ballfield, said Cmdr. Vincent Jansen, commanding officer of Air Station Sitka. Members of the Coast Guard will be released from work to attend the event as special guests.

“A hand was extended from the city, and we graciously accepted,” Jansen said. “It’ll also be a thank you back to the community for putting this on for our folks. It’s another opportunity to get together, get to meet each other and get to know each other in a less formal capacity. We’ll have a static display to show the hardware – We get to see it up close every day and sometimes you forget how cool this job is.”

He said he will be at the controls landing the helicopter, and said it’s “a chance to practice a skill set.” He is asking everyone attending the event to stay a safe distance away as the helicopter lands.

The community celebration comes on the heels of another community event, the National Night Out sponsored by the police department at the Moller Park ballfield two weeks ago.

The event honoring the Coast Guard Friday is “to appreciate the Coast Guard personnel and families,” City Public and Government Relations Director Melissa Henshaw said. “They’re an extremely important and big part of our community – important to our economy, our culture, our way of life, and our safety and survival.”

“National Night Out was a huge success – the Coast Guard participated and it exceeded our expectations,” said City Administrator John Leach, who is retired from the Coast Guard. “What a great way to top off a great summer and the recertification of Sitka as a Coast Guard City, and welcome new members of the Coast Guard. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen and showcase our great relationship with the Coast Guard.”

Sitka first became a Coast Guard City in 2011, and renewed its designation in 2017, and this year on February 25.

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