At this time of profound loss for our families, I want to extend our deepest and most sincere gratitude to each and every person involved in the search over the past several days for my brother, Vern McGee, and for Mike Dunne.
Upon receiving word on Feb. 23, in Seattle, that Vern and Mike were missing, I was first in contact with Scott Lemasters, commanding officer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Juneau.
Immediately, Lemasters and his team took complete control of search efforts regarding the 35-foot fishing vessel, Transition. The team coordinated an intensive search spanning the distance from Ketchikan to north of Juneau. Involved in this tremendous effort were the International Guard, Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Stations from Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau.
Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa assisted in the search along with hilo helicopters, float planes and 25-foot fast boats. A 47-foot cutter was later added to the effort. The search included night flights using a Hilo helicopter equipped with night vision equipment and an infrared detecting system.
The crews worked tirelessly and put their own safety at risk on behalf of Vern and Mike. At the same time they kept in constant contact with our family members, taking time to answer all of our questions with great care and working hard to ease our concerns. Lemasters and his team made us feel like they were looking for members of their own families. Throughout these troubling days we have been surrounded with immeasurable strength and support. The team could not have done anything better that would have resulted in a more successful search.
There are no words to fully express the gratefulness we feel for all of you who joined your skills with courage and hope to find Vern and Mike. Your compassion and care have meant so much to each of us.
Thank you from the families of the crew of the fishing vessel, Transition. We will never forget you.