Moving on to new assignment is ‘military’ thing to do

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 2004

After four years of serving as commander of the Coast Guard unit in Demopolis, Master Chief Tim Trimble is leaving for a command post in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The master chief said the move is a routine military procedure, and has nothing to do with being ready to move on.

“Every three to four years all military units change,” he explained. “It’s a way to diversify your troops and you don’t get stuck in one occupation or one location.”

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He said the change can be good in other ways too, providing the post with a “fresh set of eyes.”

“This guy coming in may have a different view that can be good for the post,” he said.

Trimble came to Demopolis after serving in Key West, and he said he has enjoyed the area and the river system. Trimble’s unit is responsible for all inland rivers from north Alabama to the Gulf Coast.

“I’ve enjoyed it all,” he said. “From the clean waters of the rivers in North Alabama to the muddy waters of the lower rivers to the open Gulf Coast.”

He said there are times, though few and far between, that he feels like Mark Twain as he sits on the thick leather chair in the captain’s cabin at the top of the tug boat.

“At times you do when there is a big rise coming through, the water is up and you’re not going anywhere fast,” he said.

As part of their duties, Trimble and his crew search the riverways, setting buoys and shore aides – which tell boaters which side of the river to be on, assisting boaters who need it and routinely enforcing waterway laws.

“Any ‘coastie’ is responsible for enforcement, but that’s not our primary function,” he said. He noted that since 9-11 that role has changed somewhat, providing more authority and enforcement duties through Homeland Security, but he said that has not been as much of an issue in Demopolis and the Alabama river system as other places.

“It’s not as big here because we’re so isolated on the inland rivers. In Corpus Christie, on the open Gulf, things may be different,” he said.

Trimble’s crew consists of 15 members, 13 who sail with the 75-foot-long tug boat and 90-foot barge, and two who assist from land.

In addition to the Coast Guard duties he and his crew perform, Trimble and his group work with the community often, from helping with the River on the Christmas parade by building and wiring floats, to assisting with the boat races and the upcoming Corps of Engineers cleanup effort.

The crew was busy Friday cleaning and painting the boat, making sure it was in prime condition when the new master chief takes over Sept. 17.

On that day there will be a changing of command ceremony that will be open to the public. The event is scheduled to take place at the City Landing in Demopolis, however, should the weather be inclement, that may change.

Trimble said though he is looking forward to the new post, he will miss Demopolis.

“This is a good crew and a good area. It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “But Demopolis will be in good hands with master chief.”

He said the one thing he will miss most about Demopolis is the community.

“I will miss the small-town atmosphere,” he said.