Pa. delegation seeks Coast Guard honor for Arnold Palmer
Long before Tiger became the center of the golf universe, there was “the King.”
The late Arnold Palmer’s name is attached to a charitable foundation, a Florida hospital, a Unity cancer center, an airport and a soft drink as well as a crew of loyal fans known as Arnie’s Army.
Now the Pennsylvania congressional delegation is seeking a new honor for Palmer, who served in the Coast Guard prior to launching his professional golf career. If the campaign to have the Coast Guard name a vessel in his honor succeeds, it just might end up becoming the King’s Cutter.
In a bipartisan gesture of goodwill for the Pennsylvania native son who died at 87 on Sept. 25, 2016, Sens. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, and Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, joined the state’s 18 congressional representatives in a letter asking Adm. Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, to consider naming a Fast Response Cutter or other “suitable vessel” after Palmer.
In the letter nominating Palmer, the delegation quoted Palmer’s assessment of his Coast Guard service from 1951-53.
“The knowledge that I gained, the maturity that I gained in the Coast Guard was unbelievable. … It matured me. It made me a better person,” Palmer said on several occasions.
They stressed that it was not just Palmer’s long career in professional golf, but also his dedication to community and charitable works that prompted their request.
“Arnold Palmer touched millions of lives through his storied golf career and philanthropic efforts, so it is only right that we honor this great man with a Coast Guard vessel bearing his name. As a former Navy JAG, I am hopeful this bipartisan effort will help to preserve Mr. Palmer’s legacy of service to country and community for future generations,” wrote U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters.
Palmer’s daughter, Amy Palmer Saunders, wrote that the gesture is both touching and meaningful to his family.
“We are immensely proud of my dad’s service in the United States Coast Guard and appreciative of the positive impact that it had on his life. He credited the USCG with making him a more mature, better person, and the values and patriotism he forged there were handed down to his children and grandchildren and continue to impact our family,” she said.
Toomey said Palmer represented the best of Pennsylvania.
“I am honored to support this request for a Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter to be named after Latrobe’s favorite son. From his time as an enlisted member of the Coast Guard to his accomplishments on and off the golf course, few personified generosity, kindness and commitment to community more than Arnold Palmer,” Toomey wrote.
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Hollidaysburg, echoed those comments.
“Not only was Mr. Palmer a champion on the golf course, through his many charitable works and his service in the United States Coast Guard, he was a champion in all aspects of his life,” Joyce wrote.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .