WWII Coast Guard veteran presents Cutter Tampa with flag from original Tampa

Alex Obrizok addresses the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa.

Alex Obrizok addresses the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Coast Guard WWII veteran presented the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa with a historical flag in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday afternoon.

Alex Obrizok is a 96-year-old man and resident from North Carolina. He served in the Coast Guard from 1942 to 1946. In addition to his Coast Guard service, Obrizok is also a Navy and Sea Bees veteran with over 20 years of cumulative service to his country. He participated in operations for both WWII and the Korean War.

Obrizok was attending a wedding in September of this year; at the wedding he met Patricia Larkin, a 2003 Coast Guard Academy Graduate, and Coast Guard veteran. Obrizok and Larkin both served on a Coast Guard cutter with the same namesake, the Tampa.

Obrizok then went into a storage chest where he retrieved a Coast Guard ensign that belonged to the original Tampa. He presented the flag to Larkin and asked her if she would return the flag to the current Tampa because of its historical significance.

“It’s a beautiful flag,” said Obrizok. “It survived all these years and belongs with her namesake, it belongs to the Tampa.”

Larkin contacted the Coast Guard and brought attention to the historical flag and the man who has had it for over 70 years.

Obrizok, his daughter and son-in-law drove from Selma, N.C. to Portsmouth, Va. to give the flag to the current Tampa. The flag was flown on the ship during his visit and remained flying during quarters where Obrizok read the promotion certificate for three officers whom promoted from Ensigns to Lieutenant Junior grades. Vice Adm. Scott Buschman, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, presided over the ceremony and thanked Obrizok for the historical flag, his service to his country and for making the trip to meet the crewmembers aboard the current Tampa.

During WWII, Tampa was part of the historical Greenland Patrol and was an escort vessel for the Dorchester convoy. That Tampa was decommissioned late in 1946.

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.