The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 22, 2013

Coast Guard commander remembers Milton roots

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — SEATTLE — Rear Adm. Richard T. Gromlich describes the Coast Guard as “very much a family.”

The 30-year Coast Guard veteran, who recently was promoted to commander of the 13th Coast Guard District, based out of Seattle, said that’s the way he also would describe his years growing up in Milton and attending Milton High School.

“I looked at that as a family environment,” he said. “You kind of knew everybody, you knew a lot of people in the community. I still keep in touch with many of those people today who took the time to invest in me and had the time because it was a small town.”

As commander, Gromlich is responsible for Coast Guard operations covering four states, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, including 4,400 miles of coastline, 600 miles of inland waterways and a 125-mile international border with Canada, and more than 4,000 employees, according to the Coast Guard Public Affairs office.

Gromlich said he was encouraged to join the military by his father, Ernest Gromlich, who, along with his mother, Shirley, was a longtime teacher in the Milton Area School District.

“My dad was in the Navy, he did a four-year tour, and after that, he ended up going into the Pennsylvania Army National Guard,” Gromlich said. “So he was the one that really, really started talking to me about the benefits of military service and encouraged me to look at military academies. I really attribute a lot to him.”

Gromlich, who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1983, said his parents were very involved in the school community, coaching many young athletes. He also remembers many coaches who made a huge impact on him and helped him learn leadership skills during his time at Milton High School.

“That really had a huge impact on me,” he said. “I got to participate in some sporting activities and learn some leadership.”

Gromlich moved to Seattle three months ago to assume his new role, and he said the transition has been smooth.

“Seattle has been wonderful,” he said. “There are just a lot of really neat things to do here, a lot of outdoor activities. We’ve been very welcomed to the area by the local community.”

But there’s only place Gromlich — who has served in San Diego, North Bend, Wash., Savannah, Ga., and Cape Cod, Mass. — calls home.

“Milton and central Pennsylvania will always be home,” he said. “It helped to set me up to have this.”