ROCKLAND, Maine — Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Barthel said goodbye to friends and his crew Thursday in an emotional address during a change of command ceremony.
Barthel stepped down after three years of running Coast Guard Station Rockland. He did much more than run the station, however, and became entrenched in the community, where he volunteered with the Lobster Festival, the Boy Scouts, Special Olympics and several other organizations.
Barthel spoke highly of his crew, which now will be led by Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Arnsdorf, originally of Oregon.
Barthel brought up examples of calling crew members in the wee hours of the morning for search and rescue missions and what their responses were.
“It is never ‘Do I have to come in?’ — it’s ‘What time do you need me there?’” he said.
“I demanded this crew be the best and they were up to the challenge,” Barthel said.
Sailboats and the ferry glided past in the rain in the background as the event was held in a large, white tent at the end of Tillson Avenue.
Throughout his speech, Barthel sprinkled nuggets of advice to his replacement.
Barthel advised Arnsdorf not to be suckered into becoming a judge of the Maine Sea Goddess beauty pageant at the Maine Lobster Festival.
“It is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Barthel joked.
As for regrets, Barthel had few.
“I regret we didn’t do better at the spelling bee,” he said. “Sebastian, you have to save face for us next year. I hope you know how to spell ‘dinghy.’”
At this, Arnsdorf shook his head, no.
Barthel, who was presented a commendation medal at the ceremony, ended his lighthearted speech with heartfelt goodbyes that left several people in the standing-room only tent teary-eyed.
In Arnsdorf’s remarks, he said he was happy to come to a small boat community, as small boats have been one of his life passions.
“I know I’ve been blessed by getting this assignment,” he said.
Arnsdorf has been in the Coast Guard since enlisting in Portland, Ore., in 1994. His last post was in Kodiak, Alaska. He, his wife and his son now live in Rockland.
Barthel, his wife and his two daughters will relocate to McKinleyville, Calif., where Barthel will work as an assistant surface operations officer.