On September 11, 2001, June Haymon grabbed her uniform and hit the Long Island Sound. A U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary past-captain – responsible for the Bronx and Manhattan – she covered for Coast Guard regulars busy at the Battery.
“They were pulling bodies from the water,” Haymon, 77, said.
Haymon, a longtime resident of Spencer Estate, was ready when the twin towers fell. She began boating in 1959 and joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1989.
Haymon is a boat inspector and safety instructor. She knows where boats do and don’t belong. She’s an expert on federal boating regulations. During the summer, Haymon jets from Orchard Beach to City Island, Country Club to Clason Point. Don’t drink and boat, she counsels. Keep fire extinguishers, flares and life jackets on board. When needed, the Coast Guard Auxiliary performs search and rescue.
“The Coast Guard regulars love us,” Haymon said. “We help out and we’re volunteer.”
Friends from City Island’s Harlem Yacht Club encouraged Haymon and her husband to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Once, Haymon’s husband jumped onto a burning boat and put out a fire.
“It’s satisfying to know that you’re the difference between boaters drowning and coming back alive,” Haymon said.
A retired schoolteacher, Haymon has written three books, including Strike Three You’re Safe! – a novel about growing up in foster care. Haymon belongs to the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck and the Friends of Pelham Bay Park. She is a security guard at the American Turner Club.
But the Coast Guard Auxiliary is Haymon’s true love. She appreciates the camaraderie and sense of purpose.
“If I wasn’t doing this, there’d be a big void in my life,” Haymon said. “I meet a lot of nice people with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. There are meetings all over the country, in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico. We have fun.”
Pete Rodriguez of Castle Hill is a Coast Guard Auxiliary coxswain. He and Haymon volunteer together on a 26-foot boat. They ask fishermen to steer clear of the Whitestone Bridge. They collect marina information, prepare for storms and network against terror attacks. According to Haymon, City Island is particularly vulnerable.
“We’re a team,” Rodriguez said. “We enjoy each other.”
Haymon is a kayak convert. First, she bought her son a kayak. Now she has one of her own. Age doesn’t deter Haymon.
“We paddle around City Island,” she said. “This summer, we’re going on a kayak trip to Port Washington. It’s a great sport. My arms are very strong.”
©2009 Community News Group