A Kodiak-based Coast Guard rescue swimmer was named the GEICO 2012 Military Service winner for his work in drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
Claude Morrissey traveled with his family to Washington D.C. last month to receive the award at the annual GEICO Military Service Awards dinner.
Each year for the last 25 years, GEICO has recognized one enlisted member nationwide from each of the five branches of the military for service in drug and alcohol prevention, fire safety and prevention, or traffic safety and accident prevention.
“The reason I got the award was for the work I do with the alcohol prevention,” Morrissey said. “It’s nice to get an award for not having to save a life…to get something based on something completely different than the regular job.”
Drug and alcohol prevention is a small portion of his job, but Morrissey said it’s the most important.
“It’s a chance to help people out in a bad situation or heading down a bad road,” he said. “You kind of have to be approachable and you have to be pretty good at recognizing the people that do need help.”
Chief Petty Officer Charlie Fowler, Morrissey's boss of three years at Air Station Kodiak, said Morrissey goes above and beyond to help people prevent issues with alcohol, and was deserving of the award.
"He's a really good advocate and source of information for members who may or may not have a dependency issue," Fowler said. “Every time we have any kind of event, Claude will volunteer to be a designated driver.”
As a rescue swimmer, Morrissey has been directly involved saving the lives of stranded fishermen, hunters and hikers. In 2011, he was involved in saving the lives of five fishermen on the fishing vessel Midnite Sun, which ran aground. He saved the lives of six people in 2012 and logged more than 150 flight hours.
Morrissey has also served as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic for the Women’s Bay Fire Department, and provided chainsaw safety classes to Coast Guardsmen who were new to Kodiak winters.
"Claude is a very large-framed individual, and I believe his heart is about three times the size of his frames," Fowler said. "I think this (award) goes to show the kind of people we get in Kodiak, the caliber of people.”
Morrissey and his family will move to North Carolina later this summer for his next station.
Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at firstname.lastname@example.org.