Continuing a legacy: Being a plank owner on the Richard Snyder

 

The service record photo of Richard Thomas Snyder. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)

Richard Snyder was a member of Navy Beach Party Number Six, on the Island of Biak, near Papua New Guinea, and when grenades began to rain down from caves and explode, there was no doubt they were being attacked by the enemy. Grenades were being thrown at the ships and men who were coming ashore in an effort to defeat an estimated 11,000 Japanese soldiers on the island on May 27, 1944. Snyder, a Coast Guardsman, took action to protect his friends and comrades. The 21-year old man from Ohio armed himself with a rifle and grenades and set out to end the severe attack so the invasion could continue. Snyder maneuvered through the forested island to where Japanese soldiers camouflaged themselves, he then attacked two caves and ended the assault on his fellow servicemen. Snyder’s actions took place during the Battle if Biak, in which 12,000 American troops, 12 M-4 Sherman tanks, 29 field guns, 500 vehicles and 2,400 tons of supplies were brought ashore to further the Allied assault in the Pacific.

The Coast Guard is memorializing Chief Petty Officer Richard Snyder by naming one of its newest ships after him – a 154-foot Sentinel-class, Fast Response Cutter (FRC). The first crew to set sail on a new ship is given the title of ‘plank owner.’

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder sits in port in Key West, Florida, before departing for its new homeport in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, March 17, 2018. The Richard Snyder is the Coast Guard’s 27th Sentinel class cutter and arrived at Sector Field Office Fort Macon on March 20, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)

“Traditionally, on a newly constructed vessel they’d rip up planks from a designated deck and hand them out to each member of her commissioning crew,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Dickinson, gunners mate on the Richard Snyder. “We don’t quite do that nowadays, but we get a certificate that represents that plank.”

The Snyder crew first boarded their new boat on January 19, 2018, in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

“I think the crew, speaking on behalf of them, I know they are glad to be a part of Richard Snyder’s name and part of his family,” said Lt. j.g. Lindsay Lesniak, executive officer of the Richard Snyder. “We’re just hoping to carry on what he meant for the Coast Guard.”

The crew says that they are humbled and excited to be the plank owners of this amazing platform. Seaman Darin Rogers, deck force member on the Richard Snyder, is the newest Coast Guard member on the boat and does not take the high honor for granted.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Bossinger and Petty Officer 1st Class Quenten Lehrschall, boatswains mates aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder, fold the U.S. flag after evening colors on the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder, March 18, 2018. Evening colors is conducted every day at sunset, where the flag is ceremoniously hoisted down and folded.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)

The Snyder family has been in full support of the boat throughout the development process. The crew got a chance to meet the Snyder’s and consider it to be one of the biggest highlights in being a part of getting the ship together.

Danielle Snyder, the granddaughter of Richard says that until recently, she didn’t know of her fathers Valiant actions in the war.

“We knew that he had a Silver Star, but we never knew why,” Said Danielle Snyder. “He never talked or bragged about it, I guess he looked at it as he was just doing his job, and that was that.”

Danielle Snyder says that he was the most loving grandfather that a person could ask for, and that the family is very proud to be a part of this process. The family says that they look forward to maintaining correspondence with the crews over the years.

“They are super excited about the cutter and what we’ve done with it,” said Lt. Andrew Norberg, commanding officer of the Richard Snyder. “We had some really good chats about who Richard Snyder was. We got to learn some of the ins and outs of the Snyder family, and what he symbolized.”

Norberg says that after getting to know who the Snyder’s are and what Richard Snyder stood for he feels that the crew embodies his legacy very well.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Bossinger, a boatswain’s mate aboard Cutter Richard Snyder, reads about the cutter’s namesake at Sector Field Office Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, March 20, 2018. The Richard Snyder departed from Key West, Florida, on March 18 and arrived at its new homeport in Atlantic Beach on March 20, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)

Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Sweeney, machinery technician on the Richard Snyder, even before becoming a crewmember had what seems like a natural connection to Snyder in how they both joined the Coast Guard. Sweeney was a freshman in high school when the attacks on 9/11 occurred and says that it was the driving factor behind his enlistment. Snyder, on the other hand, enlisted shortly after the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

“Being a plank owner for the Richard Snyder is a truly humbling experience for me,” Said Rogers. “Being brand new and being part of a brand new cutter like this in the Coast Guard is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There’s people who go 30 years is the Coast Guard, so I’ve heard, and they don’t get this type of opportunity.”

A commissioning crew forms the traditions of the boat and is responsible for setting it on a steady course for future crewmembers. Rogers has the enormous responsibility of setting the bar for future junior deck force members.

The senior crewmembers also say that they are looking forward to creating memories and traditions that will last for years to come, and that the thought of being ingrained in the history of this boat and the Snyder legacy is the most exciting element about being a part of it.

Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder approaches Coast Guard Sector Field Office Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, March 20, 2018. The Richard Snyder is the newest cutter in the Coast Guard’s fleet and is the first of its class to be homeported in Atlantic Beach. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Trey Clifton)

The crew is responsible for the overall development of the ship. The commissioning crew writes the blueprint on many different facets of the boat. The crew created all 40 of the programs required for a cutter, such as weapons systems, training, damage control, safety, personnel management, and shipboard instructions.

“We built all of the programs from ground up,” said Lesniak. “We trained on this boat starting from day one, from scratch.”

The Snyder crew visited Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana, where the FRCs are built. The Cutters take three years to build, so the crew did not get to see their boat in production, but did get to see the production of other ships in its class.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder stands in front of a Fast Response Cutter in the process of being built at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana, Nov. 27, 2017. The crew was able to see how ships similar to their own were produced.(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Andrew Norberg)

“What was cool about Bollinger Shipyards was that we got a tour of the production line and saw the FRCs at each stage of development,” said Lesniak. “We often went through the shipyards to observe the welders in action and watch the pieces being put together.”

The Richard Snyder is designed for multiple missions including drug and migrant interdiction, search and rescue, and national defense. Outfitted with a 25 mm machine gun, four .50-caliber machine guns and an interceptor boat that launches from the stern, which ensures that the Richard Snyder is prepared for any type of situation.

Snyder passed away on Nov. 25, 1989, and 74 years after his actions in World War II, the name Richard Snyder still stands for bravery and the protection of freedom through a state-of-the-art Coast Guard ship and its dedicated crew.

The ship’s command says that embodying what Richard Snyder stood for is very important to the crew moving forward, and they view the Snyder name as a symbol of looking out for shipmates no matter what and always putting them first.

“’Never yield,’ is the ship’s motto,” said Norberg. “It’s certainly something that we think embodies Richard Snyder, what we think his legacy is.”

Coast Guard Lt. Andrew Norberg, commanding officer of Cutter Richard Snynder, peers over the rail at the ship’s new homeport at Sector Field Office Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, March 20, 2018. Norberg is the first commanding officer to take command of the Fast Response Cutter, which is the first of its class to be homeported in Atlantic Beach. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges)