Earning an elite insignia

BM2 Patrick Smith, left, stands tall while being pinned with his surfman badge by BM1 Andrew Port on Wednesday. (Photo by Stephanie Blair)

Coast Guard pins Surfman 551

DEPOE BAY — On the morning of May 29, with peers and family in attendance, Boatswain’s Mate second class Patrick Smith was pinned with his surfman badge during a ceremony held at Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay in honor of his achievement of the rank.

Though the ceremony was held May 29, Smith earned his status a surfman on May 22, for demonstrating superior knowledge and skills as a lifeboat coxswain. With this achievement, Smith joined the ranks of the 550 other elite Coast Guard officers who have all undergone difficult, time-consuming training to earn the badge and title of “Surfman,” an elite group responsible for piloting rescue boats through heavy surf.

The expert level award is well described by the closing lines of the Surfman’s Creed, the entirety of which BMC Derek Seehagen recited on Tuesday morning during the procession: “I will never unnecessarily jeopardize myself, my boat or my crew; but will do so freely to rescue those in peril. I will strive with dedication and determination to bring credit upon Coast Guard Surfmen past and future.”

For the ceremony, members of many stations — including Cape Disappointment and Siuslaw River — made the journey to Depoe Bay to honor and congratulate Smith.

Following his pinning, Smith was given the opportunity to speak to those gathered. After commenting that he’s “not much for words,” he gave a heartfelt thanks to all who had gathered for honoring him, and to his family for supporting him. He ended his speech by stating: “I’m pretty proud to be a part of the group of the best boat operators in the world.”

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