Past President Ben Brewer stepped in for Cindy Kelley this past week to lead our meeting.  Ben asked for members to mark their calendars for Thursday, October 4 for RCSE Cocktail Hour at The Pirates House and Wednesday, October 10 for the Golfing for Goodness' Sake golfing fundraiser hosted by South, West and RCSE!  After all Rotary business items were discussed, Ed Hissam introduced Commander Drew Benke of the Coast Guard Air Station at Hunter Army Airfield.  
 
Commander Benke kept everyone on their toes and engaged throughout his presentation!  He began by stating most Coast Guard Air Stations are located on Navy bases or property owned by the DOD.  The Coast Guard was formed in 1790 and has had numerous different names since its beginning.  They are federal law enforcement  and are currently underneath the Department of Homeland Security.  Their job is to cover 95,000 miles of shoreline.  An aircraft can go 250 nautical miles (this is round trip!).  Most helicopters have 4 crew members on board at a time: 2 pilots, 1 rescue swimmer, and 1 operational man.  The whole Coast Guard force is smaller than the NYC police force.  Due to this, they rely heavily on volunteers.  They have around 29,000 auxiliaries who are compensated for their gas but not their time.  
 
Drew is in charge of all pilots in Savannah and Charleston and began his career in the Coast Guard by being on boats before becoming a helicopter pilot.  The territory he covers stretches from North Carolina all the way down to Melbourne, Florida.  There are a total of 5 aircraft between the two bases and 95 personnel.  The primary mission is to do marine search and rescue along with homeland security.  In FY17, they went on 254 missions.  
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