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Walk of History honors aviation heritage

Alex Doty • Aug 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Three new locations have been made permanent additions to Grand Haven’s Coast Guard Walk of History, and they were unveiled at a dedication ceremony on Friday afternoon at City Hall.

“We’re really glad to be able to cement our relation with the U.S. Coast Guard and Grand Haven, Mich. — Coast Guard City, USA — into bronze plates in our walkways around town that help solidify our relationship with Washington, D.C.,” Coast Guard Festival Chairman Scott Klaassen said at the ceremony. “Grand Haven was declared by Congress many decades ago to be the one and only Coast Guard City, USA.”

Since then, 21 other municipalities across the country have become designated as a “Coast Guard City,” including Traverse City in 2010.

“But none of them are Coast Guard City, USA,” Klaassen noted. “And we’re glad that Grand Haven will remain the No. 1 place.”

See more photos from the event at the Tribune photo gallery.

This year’s Walk of History points follow the theme of this year’s festival, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Coast Guard aviation.

“When people think of the Coast Guard, they often think of boats and water, but really a big part of their daily operation is also aviation,” Klaassen said. “They’ve got the great helicopters — we had two of them out at the airport (Thursday) night for the Tri-Cities dinner. There was over 300 people hosted there.”

The 2016 Points of History dedicated on Friday are:

— A point celebrating Coast Guard aviation from 1916-2016 is located at the northeast corner of the fountain in Central Park.

— A point honoring Lt. j.g. John P. Currier, the U.S. Coast Guard 1980 Harmon Trophy recipient, is located near the flagpole at the city’s airport, 16446 Comstock St.

— A point honoring retired Cmdr. Bruce Melnick, the first Coast Guard astronaut in 1990, is located at City Marina, 101 N. Harbor Ave.

Also recognized on Friday were Sgt. Lee Adams and Officer Dave Scott, both of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol Officer Cal Keuning. The three men were honored by the U.S. Coast Guard for saving two teens’ lives in Lake Michigan in 2015 during strong wave conditions.

Klaassen said the honor was a unique situation for this year’s ceremony.

“That isn’t something that we do annually, but we had three local heroes on the public safety end ... that have helped rescue people in the past year,” he said. “It’s just great to give those guys the recognition that they deserve.”

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