Recent basic training grads named Coast Guard’s Shipmates of the Week

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May NewsCAPE MAY, N.J. – Three recent Coast Guard Training Center Cape May graduates were recognized this week as the Coast Guard’s Shipmates of the Week for helping to rescue five fishermen off the southern coast of Jamaica Jan. 3 at 11 p.m.

Seaman Charles Gray of Norcross, Ga., Seaman Jarrod Reed of East Liverpool, Ohio, and Seaman Pablo Taborda, Jr. of Miami were standing lookout watch during a counter narcotics patrol aboard Coast Guard Cutter Venturous, which was encountering 12-foot seas and 35-knot winds at the time. The trio spotted a light in the distance in the punishing weather and reported it to the bridge.

“The OOD (officer of the day) thought it might be a buoy, but we were confident we had spotted something more than that,” said Taborda, who graduated Dec. 9, 2011, with Recruit Company Whiskey 185 and had only been on patrol with Venturous four days. “Our commitment as Coast Guardsmen and our confidence as look outs made the OOD and the command want to check it out further.”

With no correlating radar contacts in the area, the crew of Venturous went to investigate the light. The crew used their forward looking infrared camera and spotted the five fishermen clinging to the wreckage of their sunken fishing vessel. The light the fishermen used to signal the lookouts was a cell phone that surprisingly survived the capsizing of the vessel. Gray, Reed and Taborda had spotted the cell phone light from more than two miles away in 12-foot seas.

“Even though you’re the lowest man on the totem pole, you’re still capable of making that big difference in somebody’s life,” said Reed, who graduated Sept. 9, 2011, with Recruit Company Lima 185. “We were able to make a difference that night.”

Each recruit at Training Center Cape May receives lookout training as part of their basic training, but the Gray referenced another skill he learned at Training Center Cape May that is even more important.

“The most important thing I took away from training in Cape May is not to become complacent because that’s when someone can get hurt, or in this case, we could’ve very easily missed those guys,” said Gray, who graduated Sept. 23, 2012, with Recruit Company November 185. “They very well would be dead right now had we not seen them.”

Capt. Bill Kelly, the commanding officer of Training Center Cape May, will brief basic training recruits here Wednesday at 10 a.m. on the success of their shipmates already in the fleet and motivate them in their final weeks of training.

“What we do here is important, and it does make a difference,” said Kelly. “The basically trained, physically fit, smartly disciplined non-rates we graduate week in and week out will be called upon to serve the day they step aboard their first units.”

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