Unkrich retires, Urban in command of USCGC Wedge

Published 9:24 pm Friday, August 14, 2009

Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Unkrich officially retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday after 30 years of service, stepping down as the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Wedge, which is based in Demopolis.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Steven Urban took command of the Wedge in a ceremony that marked the change of command as well as Unkrich’s retirement.

Unkrich served for five years as commander of the Wedge, coming to Demopolis after serving as the officer in charge of the USCGC Chena in Hickman, Ky., for three years. He will retire to Theodore, where his family has lived.

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“For about three months, I’m going to take it easy,” Unkrich said. “After that, I’ll probably get into business. I’m looking to getting into business with my wife.

“Working in Demo-polis has been wonderful. Everybody in Demo-polis has been good to us, and has been good to our guys. We’ve been blessed.”

Urban served aboard the Wedge from 2005 to 2007 as executive petty officer. He then assumed command of the Coast Guard Aids to navigation team at Port O’Connor, Texas, before returning to Demopolis for his current command. His family lives in Bay Minette.

“I’m thrilled to be back here in Demopolis,” Urban said. “I love the town; I loved it when I was here. I feel close to the ship, and relieving Master Chief Unkrich — he was my mentor, my sponsor. He taught me what I know. Coming here to relieve him was just outstanding.

“Also, I’m a lot closer to my family — 130 miles as opposed to 700 — so I’ll be able to go home on the weekends.”

The mission of the Wedge is to aid with navigation along the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers in this area. It marks the hazards in the river and helps to keep the tug boats running.