© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Great Lakes Today was created to highlight issues affecting the lakes. The main partners are WBFO (Buffalo), ideastream (Cleveland) and WXXI (Rochester).Browse more coverage here. Major funding for Great Lakes Today is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. Additional funding comes from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Coast Guard Commander on Great Lakes Retires Wednesday

Rear Admiral June Ryan [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

The first woman to lead the Coast Guard district that covers the Great Lakes is retiring Wednesday. 

In the two years Rear Admiral June Ryan has been Commander of the 9 th District, the winters have been mild.  And there hasn’t really been a need for icebreaking – what she calls the Coast Guard Great Lakes' greatest challenge.

But she says there’s another challenge – one she’ll continue to fight for, even after she retires. It comes with increased recreational boating on the Great Lakes, especially people using kayaks and canoes.

“Our greatest challenge is a lot of them don’t wear lifejackets, and then they’re very easy – canoes and kayaks are very easy to tip over, so they end up in the water more frequently than any other boater,” Ryan said.

Statistics  show it’s a big problem. Nationwide, 83 percent of boating accident victims who drowned last year were not wearing a lifejacket.

Ryan is retiring to stay in Cleveland with her family – but will miss her Coast Guard family as well.

“I joined because my father was a patriot, and encouraged me," she said. "I joined the Coast Guard and realized it is very much like a family.

“I went to my first unit and I had 30 big brothers that were doing nothing but watching out for me.”

She’s had a lot of firsts in her career – she was the first woman in Coast Guard history to go from enlisted all the way to Admiral.

And for her last “first”, Ryan is passing the torch to another woman: Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan.

Nunan says she looks forward to continuing the work Ryan has done and maintaining communication with federal, state, and local partners – including Canada. “P art of my job is really to cultivate these relationships and these partnerships to make sure we are working together on the important issues,” said Nunan.

Nunan will stay in Cleveland for the next two years.