NAWILIWILI — Gen. (ret. USAF) Mary Kay Hertog, the commander of the Kaua‘i Veterans Council, said Friday that Veteran Gennii Andersen’s final wish was for her ashes to be scattered at sea by the United States Coast Guard.
Surrounded by Andersen’s closest friends and Kaua‘i ‘ohana, USCG Chief Petty Officer Timothy Elhajj and the crew from Station Kaua‘i fulfilled that request of the oldest woman veteran on Friday, starting with a short dockside service and invocation by Jim Jung, a retired USCG veteran and the chaplain for the Kaua‘i Veterans Council.
“We know that Genevieve Andersen has left her earthly body, but her spirit lives on,” Jung said. “As I mourn Gennii, I look back at our many visits, and the privilege of introducing her at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center. In preparing that speech, I researched her life as a Coast Guard woman.
Gennii joined the U.S. Coast Guard, enlisting in February 1943 shortly after the USCG opened its ranks to women. Serving with the USCG Women’s Reserve, or SPARS, Andersen was an extremely successful recruiter in both Kansas City, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio, earning the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade within a year.
“Gennii loved the Coast Guard, and when I first met her at age 98, she still carried her dog tags on her key chain,” Jung said. “One of her regrets, however, was that women in the Coast Guard were assigned to shore duty, and not allowed to go to sea. Gennii’s wish was to go to sea. She would’ve given an arm and leg to have Lindsy Martin’s, one of the Response Boat-Medium operators this morning, job.”
Jung said Gennii let her wish be known that she wanted her ashes to be scattered in the ocean from a Coast Guard vessel.
USCG Station Kaua‘i did better than that.
“They put her in a life jacket, boarded on a Coast Guard vessel for her 100th birthday, and gave her a tour of the harbor,” Jung said. “On her 101st birthday, they had her drive one of their vessels. They also awarded her with an honorary Advanced Boat Force pin, the highest Coast Guard award for boat operators. She later told me that it was the best day of her long life.”
Gennii Andersen passed on Aug. 26, 2022, at 104 years of age.
“Gennii, fair winds and following seas, my dear friend,” Jung said. “You will always be in my heart and memory.”
Source: The Garden Island