Ancient Keeper Award designated upon Coast Guard Station Chetco River leader

Master Chief Petty Officer Kirk McKay, officer in charge, Coast Guard Station Chetco River in Brookings, Ore., walks off the stage as the newest Joshua James Ancient Keeper after a change-of-watch ceremony in Essexville, Mich., June 24, 2016. The Ancient Keeper is charged with keeping oversight of Coast Guard boat operations to ensure the services tradition of professionalism remains intact. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Master Chief Petty Officer Kirk McKay, officer in charge, Coast Guard Station Chetco River in Brookings, Ore., walks off the stage as the newest Joshua James Ancient Keeper after a change-of-watch ceremony in Essexville, Mich., June 24, 2016.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

BROOKINGS, Ore.  — Master Chief Petty Officer Kirk McKay, officer-in-charge, Coast Guard Station Chetco River relieved Master Chief Petty Officer Terry Lathrop, officer-in-charge, Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Michigan, as the Joshua James Ancient Keeper during a change-of-watch ceremony held Friday, in Michigan.

The prestigious Ancient Keeper Award is presented to a Coast Guard member on active duty in recognition of their longevity and outstanding operational performance at Coast Guard boat force units.

McKay has been serving in the Coast Guard for 24 years and has 21 years of cumulative boat force unit service.

“It is a great opportunity to work with my shipmates to help promote boat forces as a whole, said McKay. “This designation is not about me, but I am honored to act as the chairperson to make boat forces better each day and each year.”

The Ancient Keeper Award is returning to the Pacific Northwest after only a year away when it was in the capable hands of Lathrop, who is retiring from the Coast Guard after more than 26 years of service at boat force units. Lathrop relieved retired Master Chief Petty Officer James Clemens, as Ancient Keeper in July 2015 in a ceremony held at Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River in Florence.

The namesake of the award, Joshua James, is the most celebrated lifesaver in Coast Guard history with 626 lives saved. The Ancient Keeper represents all keepers who continue to live by the creed of those that have served before them. McKay is charged with keeping oversight of Coast Guard boat operations to ensure the services tradition of professionalism remains intact.

Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant U.S. Coast Guard, officiated the change-of-watch ceremony.

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