By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Capt. Michael M. Mullen of the North Bend Sector of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) said Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Kirk W. McKay, who until Friday commanded the Chetco River Station, walked the port’s docks and knew the local captains and fishermen.

Mullen, who presided over the Change of Command, noted how locals trusted McKay and how he cared about them and the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Port Commissioner Roy Davis agreed saying the port was losing a great commander and leader.

For his service at Station Chetco River, McKay was presented the Meritorious Service Award, and said the medal was heavy but it would be carried by all of the men and women who had served with him because they had earned it.

He thanked the people in town and at the port who had helped the Coast Guard do their jobs here and singled out Bernie Lindley, Interim Port Manager Kathy Lindley Hall and the port staff for offering him the information and help he needed.

McKay also thanked his staff for being a positive force in Brookings and Harbor and noted they had done more than 1,200 hours of community service.

During the ceremony, Mullen removed command from McKay and bestowed it upon Chief Warrant Officer Charles M. Chavtur.

Chavtur said he will only command Station Chetco River for a few months because there was a mix-up in orders, and no permanent commander has been appointed at this time.

“I don’t plan to change anything,” he said. “Things here have been done right.”

McKay will now command Station Grand Haven located on the Grand River in Grand Haven, Michigan

Grand Haven has been named “Coast Guard City.”

Coast Guard personnel and resources there plan and execute the annual Coast Guard Festival, a week-long celebration that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors.

McKay previously received the Joshua James Ancient Keeper Award, an award held by one member of the Coast Guard until retirement.

According to Coast Guard documents, those who receive the award exemplify the finest traits of maritime professionalism and leadership. Capt. Joshua James is the most celebrated lifesaver in Coast Guard history with 626 lives saved.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at .