Posted by Debra Worley - email
Writing contributed by WECT Intern Michelle Peck
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Friday morning, a crowd gathered for a change of command ceremony next to the 45-year-old USCGC Diligence.
Douglas Fears had served as the commander post for about two years. Now, Harry Schmidt will take his place.
Fears will be going to Washington, DC to serve as an international security fellow, but he said we haven't seen the last of him and he'll miss the community.
"I'm going to miss the ship for comradery, the men that have served the Diligence with me, the community, the neighbors, people at our church," said Fears. "Everybody just been so wonderful and we're going to miss it, so I have a hunch that when I'm done with the coast guard or the coast guard is done with me, we'll be back."
During Fears' time, the Diligence:
- seized more then 4-thousand pounds of cocaine,
- saved 16 lives and
- responded hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Ike
- traveled over 52,00 nautical miles
- interdicted and processed over 500 illegal Cuban and Haitian migrants
Commander Harry Schmidt is reporting from Coast Guard District Seven's office of Response Enforcement where he served as the Section Chief for International and Inter-Agency Operations Integration.
"The welcome here in Wilmington has been great these last couple weeks, and I am continually meeting new people with smiles on their faces,"said Schmidt. "And the hospitality has just been incredible, actually overwhelming."
Schmidt is an Illinois native, and recently served as a liaison for maritime smuggling efforts throughout the western hemisphere.