Camden County, Ga., marked its selection as the nation’s first “Coast Guard Community” with an
Oct. 26 ceremony highlighted by the unveiling of two
interstate signs displaying the designation, which will
be placed at Interstate 95 exits in the county.
Members from the Coast Guard Cutters Sea Dog and
Sea Dragon, along with members from Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit, Kings Bay, Maritime Safety
and Security Team (MSST) 91108 and other units from
Georgia and Florida, joined community leaders, Georgia
Department of Transportation (Do T) representatives, the
Camden Partnership and area Navy Leaguers for the official ceremony at the Kingsland Welcome Center.
“We appreciate Do T for providing the opportunity
to showcase our Coast Guard in Camden County,” said
Sheila McNeill, president of The Camden Partnership
and former Navy League national president, who
helped spearhead the Coast Guard Community effort.
“Not only are we the first Coast Guard Community in
America, but we will be the best.”
Joining in the ceremony were VADM Charles D.
Michel, vice commandant of the Coast Guard; Ann
Purcell, the Georgia Do T District 1 representative; John
F. Morrissey, mayor of St. Marys; and Kenneth F. Smith,
mayor of Kingsland, according to a report by Seventh
Coast Guard District Public Affairs. Camden County
comprises Kingsland, St. Marys and Woodbine.
“The single greatest enabler of success for our fam-
ilies is the community around them, and a great com-
munity is why the Coast Guard is here in Camden
County — enjoying a truly amazing level of unusual
and sustained support,” Michel said during his
remarks at the ceremony, according to the Seventh
District report. “Very few communities provide enough
support to get recognition.”
The Navy League’s Hunt Thornhill, president of the
Camden-Kings Bay Council, and Keith Post, Georgia
Area president, helped with the unveiling. The designa-
tion would not have been approved were it not for the
tremendous support and activities of the council on
behalf of the Coast Guard, said McNeill, whose husband,
Arlie, a former state president and region president of the
Navy League, has served on the Navy League’s Coast
Guard Affairs Committee since 1966.
The Camden-Kings Bay Council is a founding mem-
ber of the Camden County community program EDIC-
CIMAD (Every Day In Camden County Is Military
Appreciation Day) and was co-sponsor of the applica-
tion package that was submitted to the Coast Guard in
2012 seeking Coast Guard Community status.
The council’s sponsorship of the commissioning of
Sea Dog in July 2009 and Sea Dragon in January 2008,
and adoption of the MSST in 2012, were among the
examples of community support reflected in the decision
to approve the designation, according to the proclamation Camden County received in January 2014 from
then-Coast Guard Commandant ADM Robert J. Papp Jr.
So too were the efforts of McNeill, Post, community
leaders and government officials to voice support for the
Coast Guard units after President Barack Obama’s fiscal
2011 budget request for the service sought cuts of $300
million and the elimination of five of the 12 MSSTs,
including MSST 91108. In Washington, their voices
were heard. The funding eventually was restored, and
the MSSTs allowed to remain in service.
Enacted by law in 1998, “the Coast Guard Cities program allows the Coast Guard to formally recognize those
cities which have made special efforts to acknowledge the
professional work of the Coast Guard men and women
assigned to their area and have made Coast Guardsmen
and their families feel at home in their home away from
home,” McNeill said in her remarks at the unveiling.
Signs Highlight Camden County
As First ‘Coast Guard Community’
By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 54 SEAPOWER / DECEMBER 2015
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard join members of The
Camden Partnership, the cities of Kingsland and St. Marys,
and Georgia Department of Transportation representatives
in a sign unveiling at the Kingsland Welcome Center Oct. 26
highlighting Camden County’s designation as the nation’s
first “Coast Guard Community.” The signs will be placed at
Interstate 95 exits in the county.