Neffenger D9 COC Incoming
RDML Peter Neffenger’s Change of Command remarks as delivered, 22 May 2008
Admiral Allen, Vice Admiral Peterman, Vice Admiral Papp, fellow flag officers, Canadian
colleagues, honored guests, my family, friends, and most importantly, this great group
of Coasties, the men and women of the Ninth Coast Guard District – active duty,
reserve, civilian, Auxiliary. I add my thanks to each of you for being here today. This
large turnout is a wonderful tribute to Rear Admiral Crowley and his superb leadership.
I am truly honored to assume this command, and am especially thrilled to do so in my
home state of Ohio, not very far from where I was raised. And I have a number of
family and friends here – some who have traveled long distances, so please indulge me
for a moment, because I’d like to recognize them and thank them for attending today.
My wife, Gail and her wonderful parents, Joe and Rosemary Staba. I’m especially
proud to have my father and his wife, Sherry, here. Dad, forgive me, I’m going to
embarrass you . . . he turned 92 earlier this month and now sits atop a rather large
extended family – I have seven brothers and sisters – three of whom are here today --
my sister, Gretchen, and brothers Todd and Gary and their families. You know, Dad,
we always suspected you were just looking for a ready source of free labor.
Dad, I promised when I joined the Coast Guard that I’d come back home sometime – it
only took 27 years! I also welcome my cousins, nieces, nephews and my friends – I
think I even see a few high school classmates here – Go Wildcats! I’m proud to know
each of you and am honored that you took the time to be here.
I am also privileged to follow Rear Admiral John Crowley – one of the Coast Guard’s
John, congratulations on your well-deserved award and thank you for the great work
you have done during your time here, and for taking such good care of our people.
And please accept my personal thanks to you and Ellen for your generosity, advice and
counsel as Gail and I prepared for this transition.
I wish you all the best as you start your next career and I thank you for the example you
provide me as I attempt to fill the very large footprint you’ve left, and carry forward your
many important initiatives.
What a great District and what a wonderful region! The Great Lakes are a unique and
valuable resource and treasure, and a critical source of economic strength for both the
United States and Canada.
But this region faces some impressive challenges: there are Environmental concerns
about pollutants and invasive species; an ongoing demand for the safety and security of
Commercial and Recreational vessels that use these waters, significant demands for
Icebreaking and Search and Rescue services, law enforcement concerns and of course,
there’s Weather – a verb in this part of the world.
Neffenger D9 COC Incoming
But there is an equally impressive list of governments, agencies, organizations and
individuals who work together to protect and preserve these Great Lakes.
I see outstanding cooperation and coordination at all levels -- the maritime community,
our Federal, State and Local partners, our Canadian colleagues, tribal nations and
various other organizations, groups and commissions. You have worked hard to find
common ground, and to move beyond problems, to solutions – the very definition of
public service. I thank you for that service and I look forward to working with all of you.
To the men and women of the Ninth Coast Guard District, thank you for the excellent
work this week in helping me get up to speed; to understand our many challenges and
initiatives. Your collective responsibilities are remarkable and I salute you for your
superb efforts and for making this the best District in the Coast Guard.
Admiral Peterman, I accept your challenge. We will continue to provide operational and
professional excellence across the full range of Coast Guard missions and to honor the
professional mariner and boating public. We will continue to work closely with our many
partners to ensure the safety and security of this region. We will continue to care for our
uncommonly loyal and dedicated people and their families. And we will continue to earn
the public trust by living up to our core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.
Thank you all once more for welcoming me so warmly. It’s great to be back home and
great to be back among the Guardians of the Great Lakes.