The AOTOS recipients shared the evening with a group of American seafarers who were recognized by the USS for specific acts of bravery at sea.
The evening closed with a remembrance for the the 28 American crew members and five Polish nationals lost in the sinking of the TOTE merchant ship El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin. It was led by Mr. Chiarello, who, rather than his own name, chose to have his AOTOS award engraved with the names of those lost in the tragedy.
“Each of us here at this maritime industry gathering will appreciate the gravity and the impact that the loss of the El Faro and her officers and her crew had on TOTE Maritime,” he said. “Within the firm, each of us has shared the anguish and the grief thrust so unmercifully upon the families and friends of those who were lost. Our hearts are torn bearing witness to their suffering.”
“This year,” he continued, “with the leave of the United Seamen’s Service and by the leave of those of you here with me this evening, I’d ask that we put aside any honor meant expressly for myself, and that we honor instead the valiant men and women that comprised the officers and the crew of the El Faro. This evening, they deserve the AOTOS award far more than I do.”
The ceremony included the reading of the names of those who were lost. Michael J. Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, read the named of his union members and Paul Doell, President of the American Maritime Officers, read the names of the AMO union members. Finally, Mr. Chiarello recited the names of the five Polish nationals.
For the 2015 AOTOS Awards, U.S. Senator Cory Booker served as General Chairman. Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers International Union, was Dinner Chairman and F. Anthony Naccarato of American Maritime Officers Service and Joseph Cox served as National Committee Co-Chairmen.
Proceeds from the AOTOS event benefits USS community services abroad for the U.S. Merchant Marine, seafarers of all nations, and U.S. government and military overseas.
USS, a non-profit agency established in 1942, operates centers in six foreign ports in Europe, Asia, and Africa and in the Indian Ocean, and also provides seagoing libraries to American vessels through its affiliate, the American Merchant Marine Library Association.
Edward Morgan is President and Roger Korner is Executive Director of USS.
USS AOTOS Coordinator is Barbara Spector Yeninas.