News: Boutwell builds bonds in Panama
By Ensign Riley Beecher
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell
PANAMA CITY – In the hot Panamanian July sun, the crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell spent their port call getting to know the local people of Panama City.
Crewmembers helped the congregation of St. Luke's Episcopal Church with much-needed repairs to the faded exterior and air conditioning unit. They also enjoyed a bit of competition with members of the Universidad Maritima Internacional de Panama (UMIP) during a port call.
With a small army of dedicated volunteers, Ens. Sarah Hohenberger helped organize the outreach to St. Luke’s Church. The church’s leaders plan on renovating the chapel into a school for the blind in the future.
“Spending our day restoring a beautiful church in Panama was the least we could do to hopefully one day turn the chapel into a school for the blind, " said Petty Officer 2nd Class Lindsey Barclift, an operations specialist aboard Boutwell.
The aging building needed a new coast of paint and work on a new air conditioning unit. Boutwell’s crew is no stranger to painting things white, and managed to complete a fresh coat of paint despite a mid-afternoon downpour. The ship’s resident handyman, Chief Warrant Officer Justin Creel, a member of Boutwell’s engineering department, led the installation of a much-needed air conditioning unit in the building.
“I’m always ready to help with great causes like this, it wasn’t difficult work with all of my shipmates involved ... I really enjoyed it,” Creel said.
Working diligently through the heat with a determined attitude, the builders were able to accomplish a week’s worth of work in only a few hours.
“I would like to thank your volunteer team. You all were great to work with and this work would not have happened without all your help,” said Vernon Wilson, a member from the congregation.
While some members exercised their constructive talents, other crewmembers took to the sports arena and exercised their athletic abilities. Undeterred by the likely chance of another afternoon rain shower, Boutwell crewmembers competed on the basketball court and soccer field versus UMIP.
“It was a great experience. I look forward to these types of events when we visit different ports,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Williams, and operations specialist aboard Boutwell.
Boutwell’s team enjoyed a significant height and size advantage on the basketball court, but the Panamanian team was determined and beat the Americans by only six points.
The soccer match was a different story. The Americans met a highly trained soccer team on their home turf. Even though the Panamanian team was under manned, Boutwell displayed great sportsmanship and lent an extra player. Ens. Daniel Spangler, a four-year soccer player at the Coast Guard Academy. The crew captained a gallant effort but was also unable to emerge victorious.
“It was an excellent opportunity to connect with our maritime partners, while still having fun in the process,” Spangler said of the friendly competition.
Despite ending up empty handed in the sports arena Boutwell departed with rejuvenated spirits having fostered positive relationships with the different groups in Panama.
“I love playing this sport and to be able to play it in a new country with my shipmates is a story I will enjoy telling my kids about one day,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Edgar Carrillo, a food service specialist aboard the cutter.
Boutwell is a 378- foot high-endurance cutter homeported in San Diego. Its crew of 170 personnel is dedicated to the numerous missions fulfilled by the U. S. Coast Guard. Boutwell primarily conducts counter drug patrols in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and fisheries enforcement and sear and rescue in the Alaskan Bering Sea. For more information on the historic Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell please visit: http://www.uscg.mil/pacrea/cgcboutwell/.