OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ U.S. Coast Guard Station Oswego welcomed its new leader today (July 16).
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joe Orlando took command of the station as Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ursula Walther prepares to head to her new post in Miami.
As Officer In Charge, Walther inspected her crew for the last time prior to being relieved of command by Orlando. It was also an opportunity for him to conduct a personnel inspection of those who will be in his new command.
“All of you in the audience today have played a big part in the success of the station here in Oswego,” Capt. Robert S. Burchell, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, told the large crowd assembled for the ceremony.
There has never been a more rewarding or exciting time to serve in the United States Coast Guard, he added.
“Our world is rapidly changing and with it comes new challenges, threats and hazards as well as significant opportunities,” the captain said. “To succeed we must be forward looking, adaptive flexible and responsive to emerging new concerns and trends. We must build a Coast Guard the continually senses change, and adapts.”
Building a new Coast Guard isn’t limited to modernizing the organizational structure Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it means building leadership that will best position the service for today and the future, Burchell said.
It also meant engaging in life-long learning, regardless of rank or length of service, he continued.
“We need leaders who excel in this rapidly changing climate,” he said.
Walther is a leader who understands the capabilities of her people, “and, she has no problem telling me what she thinks,” Burchell said.
He presented her with a formal recognition of her significant contributions to the Oswego station from June 2006 to July 2009.
The sector commander cited her for “exceptional professionalism, profound operational knowledge and model leadership.”
“With a minimally staffed crew, she led her station to new heights conducting 781 recreational boating safety and security boardings. That resulted in 294 safety violations,” he said. “She also enhanced the heavy weather response capability of the sector, by executing joint heavy weather two-boat training with Station Rochester.”
And, when she first took command at Oswego, she saw the need for six additional personnel.
She received, trained and certified the newcomers, which greatly improved the unit’s response posture, Burchell pointed out.
She also recognized the needs of the facility as well and due to her efforts, the station was awarded a $1 million contract to improve the living environment for the crew and extend the useful life of the station.
“This is a wonderful community, and the work, although challenging, I am confident that you will find very rewarding,” Burchell told Orlando. “We look forward to working with you and learning from you as well. This is an exciting time and a great opportunity. The bottom line is Ã¢â‚¬â€œ take good care of your people. Lead the, train them, help them and they’ll take care of the rest.”
“They are an outstanding crew and they deserve nothing less than your best, and nothing less than our best,” he continued.
Prior to taking the podium for the last time as CO, Walther presented her three-year-old daughter, Abby, with a flower.
“This is a bittersweet day for me,” Walther admitted. “It’s been an amazing tour and I’m sad to go. But, I’m also looking forward to new adventures.”
She said she’d miss many things about Oswego, such as the wonderful summer days and friendly neighbors; “But I will not miss the 10-foot snowfalls in February, so Chief Orlando, good luck with that.”
Orlando, a Texas native, nodded his head and smiled.
The snow she can deal with, the Louisiana native said, adding, “Haven’t had to evacuate for a snowstorm yet unlike Katrina (or in Orlando’s case, Ike). We just go inside and hunker down as my husband says.”
Oswego is a great place to be, she said. The huge turnout at the ceremony was proof of that, she added. She recognized all the friends and family in attendance as well as a myriad of agencies including the city’s fire, police, tourism and public works departments; the county sheriff’s department; state police; Port Authority; DEC and Border Patrol to name a few.
“This is one of the things I’ll miss the most. Everyone works together to accomplish a common goal,” she said.
She also thanked Buffalo Sector for all its support over the years.
Orlando thanked his family for their support and presented his wife, Jennifer, with a bouquet.
“I look forward to continuing the strong working relationship that CWO Walther has developed with all our neighboring local, state and federal law enforcement agencies,” Orlando said.