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58 History

Flotilla 5-8 Meeting Building

Flotilla 5-8 meeting building

Flotilla 58, located at 1400 Sea way Drive, has a long tradition of serving the boating public of Ft. Pierce and St. Lucie County Florida. It remains steadfast in providing direct support to the Coast Guard and the boating community. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has four cornerstones; member services, recreational boating safety, operations and marine safety and fellowship. These cornerstones are served via direct Operations, Boating Safety Courses, Courtesy Marine Examinations (today known as Vessel Safety Checks) and Marine Recreational Boating Safety Visitations (RBSV, formerly known as Marina Dealer visitations). We also provide support through Aviation and radio operations while promoting strong fellowship of our members.

Flotilla 58 traces its ancestry back to April 1, 1942. Special thanks to former member Herbert Edward. He was originally entrusted with the task of compiling, preserving and organization of our records. After sifting through years of dust filled records that had been laid away or miss-laid, the members were able to confirm the ancestry. This was due to a letter dated May 8th, 1942 which had the following Captions:

Frank F. Rowell – Commander,
Robert U. Gladwin – Vice Commander
Robert Douglas Silver – Junior Commander
Ruhl W. Koblegard – Secretary

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Flotilla 8 – District No.1
7th Naval District U.S.C.G.A
123 So. Second Street
Fort Pierce, Florida

This provided actual proof that Flotilla 8 had gone through the process of organization and was functioning as of that date. A later letter (June 2, 1944) disclosed Flotilla 8 was organized and chartered on March 1942. The above named officers were also confirmed by Ruhl Koblegard Jr. Ruhl joined the flotilla later in 1942.

The original founding members of Flotilla 8 Division 1 (which has since changed to Division 5) were: Frank Rowell (a wealthy Industrialist from Chicago who started the organization), RU (Bob) Gladwin (who had organized and established the Sea Scout Ship “Edwin Binney"), Ruhl Koblegard Sr, Leland Matheson, Garland Hayes Jr, Buddy Pitts, Andy Tucker, Sonny Jennings, Johnny Rae, Hybert Smith, Rolllin Matheson, George Archer, A.J. (Buck) White, Doug Silver, Ruff Ruffalow, (a retired Catholic Priest), and Doug Silver. Other members who were not in the original group but saw service during the war and immediate post war were; Gordon Bartlett, Harold Ankeny, Vincent Padrick, Don Thompson, and Bill Uhl.

The formation of Flotilla 8 took place in the critical years of World War II. The new members participated in serving our Country by joining forces with the United States Coast Guard.
Registered Facilities in 1942 included the following:

Rowell’s 30 -Foot cabin cruiser – Charter boat,
Ruffowlow’s 32-Foot Water Taxi, “YO HO”
Koblegard’s Cabin Cruiser
Lealand Matteson’s Fishing boat.

CWO C.S. Culpepper Commanding Officer and Guardsmen

CWO C.S. Culpepper, Commanding Officer, and Guardsmen who served during 1942.

The First meetings of Flotilla 8 were held through the courtesy of the Gulf Oil Company. The meetings were held at a small tin roofed building located in the Ft. Pierce harbor area. This is the present site of the Gulf Docks. Members voluntarily pledged to assist in the war effort in any way possible. The summer of 1942 also saw the creation of the Temporary Reserve. The temporary reserve member has no limitations as to the uses he may serve. The Auxiliary is a non-military organization. Many of the members of Flotilla 8 became temporary reservists. This meant they would have duties such as lookout duty, sentry duty and training duties. They were busy days and nights. Auxiliary members and the meetings became few, for this was a time for more action and less talk.

During the first years of Flotilla 8 many of its members patrolled South Hutchinson beach from the Ft. Pierce Inlet to the Martin County line. They would patrol from sunset to sunrise. Most of these members held full time jobs (one was in college) and this was no easy task. The mosquitoes were almost as dangerous as the enemy. The Flotilla came up with the idea that it would be more effective to use mounted horses instead of man power to patrol the beach. The U.S. Coast Guard implemented this idea. The mosquitoes were so fierce that the Coast Guard lost one of the horses due to being bitten so many times by the mosquitoes.

Members also used their boats to patrol the sea. Once they were asked to patrol the Gulf Stream. Later they found out that there boats were being used to create a noise diversion to confuse the U-boats in the area. It was a difficult task because none of the boats during this time had Marine Radios or navigational equipment. They could only patrol until they knew there would be enough gas to return to port. Flotilla 8 performed many rescues at sea and patrolled the waters to prevent looting of wrecked vessels.

1943 - With the country still at war, our flotilla was offered the use of space on the land of the Pelican Yacht Club. There they could hold their regular meetings. The members proceeded to build a building using lumber from demolished buildings. The Pelican Yacht Club donated bingo equipment to the flotilla to help with raising money. Meetings were held on Monday and Thursday nights at 1930. During this time frame Flotilla 8 sponsored a group of Sea Scouts.

The officers this year were Robert U. Gladwin (Commander) and Ruhl W. Koblegard (Vice Commander), Members boats were used in active service and Koblegard’s boat was numbered CGR-07806. Measurements for uniforms for members to wear while on duty were requested. Those entitled had to sign up with the Temporary Reserve, agreeing to serve one day a week. New Fishing regulations on the ocean were put into effect. Offshore fishing was allowed from Northwest Cape Sable to Little Pine Key and off the Atlantic side, but no more than two miles offshore.

1943 - Saw the Spar recruiting being stepped up with two Spars visiting Ft. Pierce to interview any women interested. Members in the C.G.T.R. (Coast Guard Temporary Reserves) were as follows: Frank Yanaros Jr, R.W. Koblegard, John L. Rhea, Herbert J. Smith, George W. Towler, Gordon F. Bartlett, Pettus K. Wilson, Alex C. Pitts. Uniforms were approved for those listed above. Night duty had been requested due to the men who volunteered working daytime jobs.

1944 - Officers:

R.U. Gladwin – Commander (BM/C),
H.J. Smith – Vice Commander (BM 1/C)
George Archer – Junior Commander
R.G. Forsman – Secretary,
Temporary Reservists:
L.H. Mahen, R.K. Wilson, C.F. Bartlett, R.W. Koblegard, B. Pits, A.C. Pitts, R.L. Forsman, J. Jennings, A.J. Royner, J.L. Rea, R.U. Gladin,I.P. Pitts, H.J. Smith, N.E. Runyon, J.F. Prindible, Irin Frank, W.T. Goethe, J.F. Spooner.

Specific duties for Temporary Reservists- Each man, having his own rating, was assigned duties on the 83 foot Coast Guard Boat. Coast Guard (must be Seamen 1st class), lookout watches, sentry duty of docks (4 hour shifts), patrol beaches (south of Vero beaches), gunnery practice (rifle), telephone duty in the barracks, and aircraft warning watch. This was the first time the Auxiliary has included ladies within the auxiliary and temporary reserve. They were; Vivian H. James – Aux #1812A/Seaman 1C; Dorothy B. Jones – Aux #1813A/Seaman 1C; The ladies performed clerical, stenography and office duties only. Lt. Pitts had been reported missing from his flight of duty. Deepest Sympathy was extended from the Coast Guard.

Women in uniforms

Sea Scouts of St. Lucie County now have an observatory and a 10-inch telescope. They also had funds to erect the unit on Sea Scout property. The observatory and telescope were anonymously donated. They had $297.40 from an auction. Shown from left are Coast Guard Auxiliary Vice Commander Leo Watson, Sea Scout Bosun Wyatt Edgell and Sea Scout Yeoman Greg Rosslow. (Staff Photo taken by: Tom Cadenhead).

Auxiliary 8 and St. Lucie Sea Scouts
Auxiliary 8 and St. Lucie Sea Scouts

Flotilla 58 would continue to grow and promote safe boating within the community. They also remained “Semper Paratus” (always ready) and worked side by side with Coast Guard Station Fort Pierce. They continued to operate over the next twenty seven years from there quarters located at the Pelican Yacht Club.

1944 The Garage - equipment and boat building
1944 The Garage - equipment and boat building

1971 – 1972 With only 20 active members out of seven flotillas in Division Five, Flotilla 8 ranked in the top echelon in all activities. This included membership training, staff meetings, public education and courtesy marine examinations. Flotilla 8’s past performance ranked the flotilla as one of the top notch Flotilla’s within the Southeast.

With the growing demands of the auxiliary and the community, the flotilla needed another location for its home quarters. This was necessary to keep up with the ever growing needs and to allow for continued expansion and growth into the future.

1973 - With the help of our members and the support of Station Fort Pierce, DIRAUX and Sector Miami, we were granted use of the Old Boat House/Garage located on the west side of the old station. Built in 1936, this 1600 sq/ft building would require some major upgrades. In April of 1973, Flotilla 8 settled in our new quarters at 1400 Seaway Dr.

A dedication with Admiral Wagner and Commander Dave Markey was held. Special thanks were given to the members for many hours of hard work and dedication. Many thanks to Frank Rich Flotilla Commander, J. Bruce Drever Vice Flotilla Commander, W.R. Hudson LCDR Director of Auxiliary Seventh Coast Guard District, Rex Coulson Commander Station Ft. Pierce, Edward L. Kaiser Captain Division 5 , Dr. Elbert C. Prince Commodore of District 7, and everyone that played their part in the procurement of the updated and renovated building and contributed towards the continued expansion and success of flotilla 58.

1990 - After a decade of wishing, Flotilla 5-8 completed their dock at the Ft. Pierce inlet.

170 ft dock with T-shaped platform
170" dock with T-shaped platform

The CGC Hudson built the Pier in 1990. It remained in service through 2000. It was used primarily by the auxiliary to enable more efficient “hands on” training. This included SAR procedures and allowed increased capabilities in performing vessel examinations. The pier also served as a platform for Station Ft. Pierce, and was used for Coxswain training. It also provided an ideal point to observe traffic through the inlet.

As a result of constant tidal erosion, tropical storms, and numerous hurricanes, the pier became badly deteriorated. It was mandated that it would be cheaper to remove the existing pier compared with rebuilding. The pier had been an integral part of our history. It served the St. Lucie county community. Special thanks are extended to the skipper and crew of the Coast Guard Buoy tender Hudson. It was their help and efforts that made it all possible,along with the Auxiliary members and original dock planning committee.

1992 - Flotilla 58 Celebrates their Fiftieth (50) Anniversary

1996 - The Station Fort Pierce Commander requested a project to repaint the Auxiliary building. Due to the age of the building authorities in the Coast Guard in Miami ordered sampling of the buildings finished surfaces. High levels of lead were found in the paint used on the exterior wood siding, exterior concrete base, exterior window trim, interior storage room, ceilings and interior window sills within the attic. Again members answered the call and started the completion of paint remediation and removal. Today, Flotilla 58 has surpassed sixty-six years of service. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the U.S. Coast Guard and the communities we serve (Ft. Pierce and St. Lucie County). We also remain Ready, Responsive and Resolute to respond as needed “Semper Paratus ”. We provide direct support to the Coast Guard and the boating community in all four Auxiliary cornerstones via direct Operations, Vessel Safety Checks and Marine Recreational Boating Safety Visitations and also support Aviation and radio operations while promoting strong fellowship of our members.

Boat House: another face-lift with a fresh coat of paint.

The 1942 original building

2012 - Flotilla 58 having surpassed seventy years of service remains steadfast in our commitment to both The U.S.Coast Guard and the communities of which we serve being Ft. Pierce and Northern St. Lucie County. We also remain Ready, Responsive and Resolute to respond as needed “Semper Paratus ”and provide direct support to the Coast Guard and the boating community in all four Auxiliary cornerstones via direct Operations, Vessel Safety Checks and Marine Recreational Boating Safety Visitations and also provides support through Aviation and radio operations while promoting strong fellowship of it’s members.