ISS1 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 35 of 55

A Father's Love Keeps Son's Memory Burning Bright Story by PA1 Gail Dale, Public Affairs Detachment New York For many, the Coast Guard isn't just a military service. Rather, it's a family whose bonds between members become just as strong and deep as the ones they share with relatives of the same name. Ron Gill became part of the Coast Guard family when his son Ronald (Ronnie) Gill, Jr. joined the service following the events of September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks, Ronnie, a Rhode Island native, called his father stating his desire to enlist so that he could help protect our nation. Initially, he served as a reservist on Cape Cod, Mass., but as soon as an active duty opportunity became available he jumped at the chance, despite it being in Anchorage, Alaska. In Alaska, Gill was a member of a Maritime Safety and Security Team; he was doing what he loved and was proud of his service. It was also here that he met his wife, Amber. In March of 2007, Gill and his shipmates were conducting patrols and training in Puget Sound in Washington State. On the last day of the deployment during one of the final patrols, Ronnie was ejected from the port security boat and injured by the propeller. The injuries proved to be fatal. "He wasn't even supposed to be part of that boat crew," said Ron Gill, Sr. "He called me and told me he had made a switch with a friend. We spoke at 12 o'clock. It was just a normal conversation. At the end we said goodbye and I love you and two hours and fifteen minutes later he was gone, two hours and fifteen minutes ..." After Ronnie's death, Gill and his wife, Rosemary, were burdened with over $20,000 of Ronnie's school loans. Overwhelmed with the debt, they put together a golf tournament ** fundraiser with the hopes of paying some of it off and donating a portion to Ronnie's high school. In one weekend they raised $17,000 and donated five times their goal to the high school. Organizing the fundraiser provided a much needed distraction from their grief. "I remember the night it was over," said Gill wiping tears from his eyes. "I was standing at my bureau in tears and I said to Rosemary, "What am I gonna do now?", because all the stuff we had done for the foundation really helped me survive those first few months; and Rosemary said, "Start working on next year's golf tournament." Rese R vist Magazine s hip M ates in Focus PS3 Ron Gill's daughter, Gracie, at a memorial honoring veterans including her dad. 34 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2017

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