The Marine Inspection and Investigation School at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Training Center in Yorktown, Va., recently held a ceremony to honor two distinguished marine safety icons, Rear Admiral William M. Benkert and Captain Dominic A. Calicchio.
Coast Guard Vice Admiral Brian Salerno, Deputy Commandant for Operations, served as the ceremony speaker.
“If my signature looks like my hand was shaking when I signed the certificates awarding the Marine Safety Pin to Rear Admiral Benkert and Captain Calicchio, it probably was,” Vice Admiral Salerno said. “These are two icons of marine safety, and I have been in awe of them throughout my marine safety career.”
Rear Admiral Benkert’s son, Mr. Alan Benkert, and Captain Calicchio’s brother, Merchant Marine Captain Fred Calicchio, also attended the ceremony to honor their distinguished family member.
Rear Admiral Benkert graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1943 and served in the Pacific during World War II. His career spanned 38 years, during which he was entrusted with numerous afloat and ashore commands. The William M. Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence was established in his honor to recognize marine industry companies that have distinguished themselves in environmental stewardship.
Captain Dominic Calicchio entered the Merchant Marine in 1943 to support the war effort. He joined the Coast Guard in 1968 and quickly made a name for himself as a safety-conscious captain of the port and a tough, no-nonsense marine investigator. Robert Frump’s book Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death, and Survival in the Merchant Marine, tells the story of the Marine Electric sinking and highlights Captain Calicchio’s efforts to uncover the casualty’s cause.
As is appropriate for men of this stature, Rear Admiral Benkert’s and Captain Calicchio’s uniforms and artifacts are on display in the main entrance of Hamilton Hall at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center.
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