SOUTHWEST HARBOR — After his second tour on the Maine coast and a bit of fanfare, Alex Bernier, 31, will head south with his family.
Monday was his last official day on the job at the Coast Guard station here. At a ceremony, Bernier, the station’s executive petty officer, was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his service and dedication.
This was Bernier’s second stint in Southwest Harbor in his 13-year career with the Coast Guard. This time around, he has been stationed here for three years. He also has volunteered on the local fire department.
His previous tour here lasted four years. His next tour will take him and his family to the southern coast of Florida.
“I have a feeling he’ll be back,” said James Meadows, officer in charge of the Southwest Harbor Coast Guard station.
Originally from Vermont, Bernier said he will miss the seasons the most with the move. He said his three daughters are excited about the change, which will bring more warm weather.
In January, Bernier was one of the first on the scene on Long Pond after three people fell through the ice on a snowmobile. Serving in his volunteer firefighter capacity, Bernier and a second volunteer assisted the victims, suffering from hypothermia, down a rock ledge to safety. They had climbed the ledge from the water in order to be more visible to rescuers.
Thankful for the positive outcome of that situation, Bernier said he was just in the right place at the right time to help.
Perhaps that event was in preparation for his next stint, where Bernier will be working search and rescue on a patrol boat in Florida.
“It’s a different job, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Bernier.