Coast Guard Cutter Oak Returns from 4 Week Deployment

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Coast Guard Cutter Oak will return home to Charleston at approximately 9 a.m. Friday after a 28-day deployment to Florida, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Port au Prince, Haiti and Cap Haitien, Haiti.

During this deployment, the cutter Oak, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender, participated in the Coast Guard Seventh District Aids to Navigation (ATON) Roundup in Port Canaveral, Fla. The five-day roundup concluded with the ATON Olympics, a day in which crews from the participating units competed in various ATON-related events. Oak’s crew took first place in the Olympics.

Following the Roundup, Oak worked south from Port Canaveral to Miami, including ATON operations in Fort Pierce, Fla., and St Lucie, Fla. Rear Adm. David Kunkel presented eight Oak crew members with awards for their heroic efforts in rescuing a couple from their burning vehicle following an accident on I-95 this past summer.

Chief Petty Officer Bruce Swain, Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Slade, Petty Officer 2nd Class Arthur Urann, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Theodore Aniskoff received Coast Guard Commendation Medals. Petty Officer 1st Class Miguel Ortiz was awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal and Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Bearekman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Schmid Joseph, and Seaman Steven Lyons were awarded Commandant’s Letter of Commendations for their roles in the rescue.

Following a brief stay in Miami, Oak spent nearly seven days servicing the aids to navigation in Guantanamo Bay. Oak’s work in Cuba keeps the militarily critical waterway open for all commercial and military traffic.

“This was a very rewarding final trip for me as the commanding officer. Seeing the crew win the ATON Olympics, then having eight crewmembers rewarded for their heroic efforts, followed by an exceptional international engagement effort with Haiti made for an exciting trip,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Wendt, commanding officer of Oak. Wendt will be completing his three-year tour as commanding officer of Oak on June 6 and reporting to Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, N.Y., for his next tour.

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