Coast Guard Station Menemsha celebrated a century of combined service Saturday, at a ceremony honoring the retirement of longtime auxiliary members Jules Ben David and Kenneth DeBettencourt.

Flotilla commander Joe Bernini said that over the course of their five decades of volunteering, the two men had been instrumental in the organization’s mission of promoting boat safety.

“Sometime back in 1973, a couple of young guys said ‘Hey, let’s join the auxiliary,’” Mr. Bernini said. “Now, here we are, 50 years later. They’ve experienced a lot of change.”

Among those changes, Mr. Bernini said, was the reformation of an independent volunteer auxiliary flotilla on-Island in 2015, after 35 years organized as a subgroup of Woods Hole. The efforts of Mr. Ben David and Mr. DeBettencourt, he said, were critical to the group’s success.

Mr. Ben David received a commendation for his service from station senior chief Nicholas Grim. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“In the years since the flotilla was reconstituted in 2015, these two guys accounted for 80 per cent of the vessel safety that we do. So, we’ve got some recruiting to do,” he said.

Station senior chief Nicholas Grim also spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the importance of the auxiliary flotilla to the station’s mission.

“The auxiliary are kind of the unsung heroes,” he said. “You guys do so much for us, and we really appreciate it.”

Mr. Grim presented commendations to both men, while highlighting the hundreds of vessel safety examinations they completed over the years.

“These efforts have undoubtedly saved or assisted countless lives while you selflessly ensured that proper boating safety equipment and protocols are being met,” he said. “Your steadfast and unwavering support for Coast Guard missions and the crew of station Menemsha made a lasting impact on the boating community.”

Mr. DeBettencourt received a commendation for his service from station senior chief Nicholas Grim. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Division commander Peter DeBakker and district captain Dennis Bunnell also presented the men with awards.

Mr. DeBettencourt told the crowd that the work had been enjoyable and fulfilling.

“It’s such fun, and not many jobs you have are fun, and I enjoy it to this day,” he said.

For Mr. Ben David, the retirement ceremony was representative of the strength of the local flotilla program.

“Kenny and I were together as young guys,” he said. “I don’t think there’s another flotilla that’s graduated two members with 50 years of service.”

When reflecting on his decision to take part in the auxiliary service, Mr. Ben David also referenced his experience in Vietnam.

“I wanted to serve my country, and that’s what I did,” he said.