March Dinner Meeting of Sarasota-Manatee Council

Rear Admiral Steve Branham, USCG (Ret), addressed the council dinner meeting on March 19 at the Sara Bay Country. Admiral Branham was the former Commander, Coast Guard District SEVEN when he retired in July, 2010. As the District Seven Commander he commissioned one of our council’s sponsored units, the USCGC Crocodile, in December, 2008.  

Coast Guard District SEVEN’s area of responsibility (AOR) covers South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean, encompassing over 1.8 million square miles of ocean. Due to its strategic location the AOR is a “target rich” environment for aircraft and sea-borne vessels, including those involved in illegal human trafficking and drug smuggling, District SEVEN conducts over 10,000 law enforcement boardings annually.

Admiral Branham’s presentation was informative and very interesting, and included still- and video-footage of Sector’s units conducting interdiction operations against smuggling operations. Several of those interdictions involved the use of force. 

Admiral Branham is now an independent consultant specializing in maritime security and safety. We appreciate that he and his wife Susan took time out of their busy schedules to be with us for our dinner meeting, and look forward to a “return engagement” in the future.

John W. Osterweil, philanthropist and council benefactor, was honored with the Navy League’s 2013 “Scroll of Honor. Mr. Osterweil, a long-time supporter of our military, was presented the award in recognition of his fund-raising efforts in support of the Earl Fowler Memorial Golf Tournaments that we’ve conducted over the past eight years, and for his numerous other contributions to our council and its charitable causes.

Accompanied by his wife Leslie, John graciously accepted the award, and recounted for the members his first dealings with retired astronaut Neil Armstrong, who went on to become one of John’s closest friends. Regarding his appreciation for the award, he later stated, “I feel so honored being in the presence of all of you who spent your lives in the service of our nation, long days, long nights allowing me to live in a free society. So I am the one saying thank you ….”


Rear Admiral Steve Branham, USCG (ret)

Mr. John Osterweil receiving the Scroll of Honor from President Rocklein

Leslie and John Osterweil and Susan Phillips

Admiral Branham, Susan Phillips and WWII SPAR Dorothy Kurtz