August 3,  2010

Long-time ferry captain receives prestigious award

Capt. Donald Austin, a long-time N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division employee in Ocracoke, has been awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Gov. Bev Perdue.

This special certificate was presented to him Thursday, July 29, in between ferry runs in Ocracoke by Assistant Director of Operations Harold Thomas.

Austin was instrumental in rescuing five fishermen from the waters of the Pamlico Sound last October. He has been with the ferry division for 35 years and retired the day after the rescue operation, but only stayed away for six months. He is now back working as a temporary employee.

He humbly thanked the state of North Carolina for providing him with a job that he loves and for being recognized for his longevity. He praised his co-workers, crew, and family for support as well.

Austin and his crew rescued a fishing party from Burlington on Oct. 23, 2009. He spotted the 16-foot boat floating bottom up when making the last run from Cedar Island to Ocracoke. The crew trains for such emergencies and immediately went into rescue mode, pulling the five people onboard the Motor Vessel Silver Lake.

Following the presentation of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Thursday, Austin was also given a letter of appreciation and congratulations from Assistant Director Thomas.

An Ocracoke resident, Austin and his wife Cindy have four children. Also on-hand to witness the presentation was Assistant Director of Maintenance and Materials Charlie Fearing, Ocracoke Operations Manager David Styron, and Homeland Security Officer Bobby Hill.

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