A time-honored tradition

The USCGC Sea Ray’s cannon boomed out 13 times across Liberty Bay

POULSBO — At 1300 hours June 28, the USCGC Sea Ray’s cannon boomed out 13 times across Liberty Bay, the hills across the bay echoing the reports back toward the 50 guests and several hundred enlisted and commissioned personnel gathered at the Austin-Kvelstad Pavilion in Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park.

It was the change of command ceremony for U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor. Since 2006, this unit has been responsible, according to the Coast Guard, for providing security for U.S. Navy ballistic-missile submarines transiting while surfaced between their home port of Bangor and designated dive/surface points.

For the past three years, the unit has been under the command of Cmdr. Michael L. Schoonover. A 1996 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, he subsequently earned a master’s in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

In his 21-year career, he has served tours in Massachusetts, Hawaii, California, Washington, D.C., and Washington state. His next duty station: the Hoover Institute at Stanford University.

Assuming command of the unit is Cmdr. Thomas Evans. He completed Officer Candidate School in 1999 and has a bachelor of arts degree from Salisbury University and a master of science in strategic intelligence from the National Intelligence Staff College.

Evans’s duty stations include tours in Washington state, Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Georgia and California.

Among the distinguished guests were:

Rear Adm. David G. Throop, commander, Coast Guard Force Readiness Command.

Capt. Brendan McPher-son, chief of staff, 13th Coast Guard District.

Capt. Michael Balding, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound.

Capt. Michael Elmstrom, Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific.

Lt. Col. Scott Reed, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor.

Lt. Col. Karl Tinson, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor.

Cmdr. Andy Wiest, Naval Submarine Support Center Bangor.

Cmdr. Tom Sullivan (ret.).

Such ceremonies are steeped in tradition and formality, with opportunities for others to praise the outgoing commander and for the outgoing commander to thank members of the crew, family and everyone else who contributed to his or her success.

As always, the most moving moment came at the end.

“Admiral, U.S Coast Guard, departing,” said the speaker. Rear Adm. Throop left the stage.

“Commander, Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor, departing.” Cmdr. Evans, the new commander of the unit, left the stage.

“Commander, US Coast Guard, departing.” Cmdr. Schoonover left last, his time here done.

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

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