Correction: The story has been corrected to add that the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is the main sponsor of a barbecue fundraiser after the Winter Carnival Parade on noon Saturday at the Homer Volunteer Fire Department. Other organizations also are helping in the fundraiser.
As the U.S. Coast Guard investigates the circumstances of his death last Thursday, the Homer community is remembering Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski.
A memorial service will be held for him at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at the Seafarer’s Memorial on the Homer Spit.
Several fundraisers also have been set up by Homer friends and the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center to support Kozloski’s wife, Brienne, and their four children.
In a press release from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, the family, friends and shipmates of Kozloski invited the Homer community to attend the service in his honor. Attire is casual, and the public is asked to arrive by 10:45 a.m.
Kozloski, of Mahopac, New York and a crew member of the buoy tender Hickory, was 35 years old. He died from injuries when a Shuttlelift crane tipped over and struck him while he worked in the buoy yard of the Hickory near the Pioneer Dock on the Homer Spit. Homer Volunteer Fire Department emergency medical technicians responded to the crane accident and medics attempted CPR on Kozloski at the scene. They took him to South Peninsula Hospital where he later died.
“It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of a devoted shipmate, husband and father following this tragic accident,” said Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell Jr., Coast Guard 17th District commander in a press release on Saturday. “Chief Warrant Officer Kozloski faithfully served his country for over 17 years and we are forever grateful for his steadfast devotion to duty and sacrifices.”
In a statement, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, House District 18, New York, praised Kozloski’s service. Maloney represents the Hudson Valley area that includes Kozloski’s home town.
“My heart goes out to Michael Kozloski’s family, his fellow Guardsmen, and the community in Mahopac,” Maloney said. “Michael dedicated his entire adult life to protecting our country as a member of the Coast Guard, and his service will not be forgotten. I ask the Hudson Valley to join me in praying for Officer Kozloski’s family and offering support during this difficult time.”
A friend of the family, Mary Jo Campbell Cambridge, has set up a GoFund Me page for the Kozloski family at https://www.gofundme.com/michael-kozloski-memorial-fund. As of Tuesday night, $22,000 of an initial $25,000 goal had been raised. Donations and appreciations came from Homer friends, fellow crew members and Coast Guard crew and families from across the nation.
Cambridge said she would probably raise the fundraising goal. All proceeds go directly to a bank account to support the Kozloski family.
“I wanted to be able to do something that would help her (Brienne) moving forward,” Cambridge said. “People just responded enormously. It’s been wonderful and heartwarming.”
Cambridge said she met Kozloski last year when she coached little league and he showed up with his daughter, Madeline, for practice.
“He said, ‘Hey, Coach. How can I help?’” Cambridge said. “That was him every single day. … He was just that kind of guy. He was friendly. He was outgoing. He was kind and generous with his efforts.”
When Kozloski had to leave on duty, Cambridge said he hated to leave his wife and children “who basically totally adored him,” she said.
“They sure had a really great relationship,” Cambridge said. “… There was a ton of love there.”
Another fundraiser has been set up through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 2-1, Homer, and the Greater Alaska Chief Petty Officers Association. The auxiliary and the CPO Association had already started a fundraiser for Homer Coast Guard crew during the federal furlough and when Coast Guard crew did not receive paychecks. Coast Guard are now getting paychecks. Fundraising will continue to support the Kozloski family, said Dan Cole, Auxiliary flotilla commander.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center will work with the auxiliary and sponsors a barbecue fundraiser after the Homer Winter Carnival parade on Saturday at the Homer Volunteer Fire Department. Free hot dogs, chips and soda will be served, with donations supporting the Kozloski family.
“Our biggest thing is asking people on their way home from the parade to stop in (at the barbecue),” said Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center Executive Director Debbie Speakman.
Donations also can be sent to the Greater Alaska Chief Petty Officers Association by sending checks or money orders made out to the association to P.O. Box 5386, JBER, Anchorage AK 99505. Bosun Mate Stephen Braun, president of the Greater Alaska CPO Association, said donations have been coming in from other CPO Associations in Alaska and the Lower 48.
“I’m sure Brie (Kozloski) would appreciate anything anyone can offer,” Braun said.
Poignantly, the theme of this year’s carnival is “Coasting into Winter,” honoring 50 years of the U.S. Coast Guard in Homer dating back to the arrival in January 1969 of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ironwood, the first Coast Guard vessel to be homeported here. Other Coast Guard units include the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Naushon and the Marine Safety Detachment, Homer. U.S. Coast Guard members will be the Grand Marshals of the parade.
Cole said he got to know Kozloski through auxiliary meetings. Kozloski had volunteered to teach an aids to navigation class for the auxiliary’s Boating and Seamanship Skills class.
“He was a great guy,” Cole said. “He was anxious to help where he could.”
Kozloski had recently joined the American Legion Post 16 in Homer, Cole said. That membership will guarantee Kozloski’s children college scholarships from the legion.
Because Kozloski’s death happened in an industrial incident involving Coast Guard crew and equipment, the event will be investigated by the Coast Guard. The buoy yard and Pioneer Dock are on city property leased to the Coast Guard.
Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said Kozloski was the only person injured in the incident. Police responded to provide HVFD medics with assistance.
Maloney gave a speech Wednesday from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives honoring Kozloski. A Congressional Record of the speech will be sent to the Kozloski family. Maloney is a member of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation.
“I will continue to monitor this situation as additional details come to light,” Maloney said in a statement. “The Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation stands ready to provide support to the Guard as they seek answers and work to ensure we prevent accidents moving forward.”
This was the second time a member of the Coast Guard has died in Alaska within a week. According to KTVA, Seaman Ethan Kelch, a crewman from Virginia, was found on Amaknak Island on Jan. 26 and pronounced dead the next day. He had been assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro, a cutter that was stopped in Dutch Harbor.