The Center for Wooden Boats Thanks Our Military Veterans
Today is Veterans Day, and The Center for Wooden Boats is proud to recognize two of our team members for their years of sacrifice and commitment to defending our country through their military service.
Thank you Chuck!
Chuck Gittings can be found most days managing the operations at The Center for Wooden Boats’ Cama Beach location near the peaceful waters of Saratoga Passage on Camano Island. During the summer months many recreation boaters and crabbers are drawn to the Cama Beach Livery where they can rent power boats, center board sloops, kayaks and row boats, and get their limit of Dungeness crab. While these fun seaworthy watercraft always make for an enjoyable day on the Sound, this is a big change of pace for Chuck who has spent a large portion of his life aboard a much different kind of vessels.
Prior to joining The Center for Wooden Boats team in June of this year, Chuck dedicated 20 years of his life patrolling our coastal waters as an active duty member of the United States Coast Guard. The early portion of his two decades of service were spent in maritime law enforcement patrolling the rich fisheries of the North Pacific as a crew member on the 110’ cutter Liberty based in Juneau, Alaska. After that, he spent three years driving life boats off the Oregon Coast while stationed on the Siuslaw River, and then went back to Alaska for another tour on the same cutter where he started his career.
Chuck then spent two years in Pensacola, Florida maintaining the aids to navigation marking the intra-coastal waterway on the Florida panhandle. He cut his tour short to answer the call to serve one tour of duty in the Northern Arabian Gulf in 2004 during the Iraq war. After his tour overseas, Chuck returned to the Northwest in Astoria, Oregon to serve on the 225’ cutter Fir, servicing the buoys of the Oregon and Washington coasts.
After many years patrolling the cool waters of the North Pacific, he took assignment on the cutter Oak where he was stationed out of Charleston, South Carolina and serviced the buoys and markers of the Caribbean waters. During his three years, Chuck was involved in migrant interdiction and multiple humanitarian missions. In January of 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake devastated the island of Haiti and in the aftermath, Chuck and his fellow crew members spent 42 days on a humanitarian mission to Port-au-Prince. Later that same year, Chuck spent 90 days in the Gulf of Mexico recovering oily waste after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Chuck ended his career in the Northwest, where he was stationed in Bellingham as the Executive Petty Officer cruising the San Juan Islands, and retired at the pay grade of Chief Boatswains Mate earlier this year.
Thank you Bradley!
After graduating from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Hadlock, Washington, Bradley Suedekum (shown left in above photo) joined the team at The Center for Wooden Boats and accepted the mission of caring for an active fleet of over 80 historic wooden vessels. As the Lead Boatwright, Bradley and the Boatshop crew – over 100 active volunteers logging over 2600 hours in 2015 – work diligently to build and maintain this large fleet using only traditional woodworking skills and careful reverence toward the historical integrity of these boats.
Bradley’s path to boatbuilding began at an early age when his father taught him how to sale on the beautiful lakes of Colorado. However, there was a mission of a very different kind between then and now.
After the terrorist attacks that took place in September of 2001 and the beginning of the Iraq War, Bradley knew his mission and bravely enlisted in the United States Army, where he served two tours in Iraq as a scout. His first tour lasted 16 months and his second tour was 12 months long, during which time he received the distinguished Meritorious Service Medal and several Arcom accommodations.
These accolades are not surprising given the fact that Bradley hails from a long line of United States military lineage. His grandfather fought in WWII, and his father served in the Army for 23 years. His uncle served in the Navy during the first Gulf War, and his brother has also served 8 years in the Navy. In fact, Bradley can trace a member of his ancestry to every major United States military conflict dating back to the Revolutionary War.
After a sustaining a significant injury during a training exercise in 2011, Bradley reconnected with his sailing roots while reading all 20 volumes in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series during his recovery. Soon after, he was medically retired from the Army and moved to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to the ocean.
We salute Chuck and Bradley, and with much gratitude, we remember all veterans today in appreciation for their dedication and sacrifice to protect our nation!