MACHIAS, Maine – In a surprise event attended by close friends and Coast Guard personnel, Timothy Harrison, of Whiting, Maine, was inducted as an Honorary Chief in the United States Coast at an informal luncheon held at the Bluebird Restaurant in Machias this past November 1st.
Harrison, who thought he was simply meeting friends George and Wendy Morrison for lunch, was caught totally by surprise when Morrison escorted him into the restaurant’s banquet room to a thunderous roar of applause by those in attendance.
The idea to have the Coast Guard honor Harrison was the brainchild of BMC George Morrison (USCG, ret.) who had followed Harrison’s lighthouse exploits, especially in the restoration of Little River Lighthouse in Cutler, as well as his efforts as editor of Lighthouse Digest, a magazine devoted to lighthouse preservation and maritime history.
In addressing those in attendance, Morrison, said of Harrison, “He is very giving and compassionate and always thinks of others first. What he has done in his lifetime is quite a feat, from working to save various and many lighthouses around the country, writing numerous lighthouse history books, founding a major lighthouse preservation group, starting a lighthouse museum, giving numerous presentations, and working to save Coast Guard history, Tim always gives credit to others who work with him and never takes credit for what he has done . . so it is long overdue for him to get noticed.”
Morrison said it took eight months’ worth of paperwork before the honors and official certificate could be approved and issued. The certificate presented to Harrison was signed by Michael P. Leavitt, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and personally countersigned by Admiral R.J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.
Harrison who was visibly surprised by the honor, and with a tear or two welling up in his eyes said he was humbled and honored by the recognition and deeply thankful to all those who attended. He said he was especially amazed how everyone was able to keep this a secret, especially in a small town.
In a touching moment, Morrison then presented his personal Chief’s insignia pin on Harrison’s Little River Lighthouse hat and said, that as a sign of friendship, he was now passing the insignia on to him.
Morrison also presented Harrison with a Coast Guard hat with a Chief Petty Officer’s insignia pin attached to it that came as a gift from CWO Dave Waldrip USCG, (Ret.) who worked with Harrison for many years in the past on numerous lighthouse projects. As Morrison officially congratulated Harrison as Honorary Chief Petty Officer, he turned to the audience and said, “You can now address him as Chief Harrison.”
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were Terry Rowden, a former Coast Guard keeper at Little River Lighthouse; Dot Black, Executive Director of the Maine Lighthouse Museum, and Paul Dilger, the former captain of the Coast Guard Buoy Tender Abbie Burgess, who is the president of the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland where Harrison also serves as a member of its Board of Directors. Shown are (l-r) BMC Austin Olmstead, OIC, USCG, Station Eastport; CWO Paul Dilger USCG (Ret.), president of the Maine Lighthouse Museum; Timothy Harrison, founder and past president of the American Lighthouse Foundation and editor of Lighthouse Digest, who was awarded the title of Honorary Chief; BMC George Morrison, USCG (ret.) and BMCS Stan Metcalf, USCG (ret.)