Coast Guard honors museum advocate with Spirit of Hope award

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James “Jimmy” Coleman Jr., board president of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, has received the 2012 Spirit of Hope award in connection with his effort to establish the national museum.

Coleman was among six recipients honored Nov. 19 during a ceremony at the Pentagon Library in Washington, D.C.

Each branch of the armed services nominates someone for the award, which recognizes volunteer efforts for the military. The honor is named after comedian Bob Hope in recognition of his work with the USO.

“It is with great pride and humility that I accept this recognition on behalf of all the dedicated volunteers and Coasties devoted to seeing a National Coast Guard Museum honoring our brave men and women protecting the liberty, safety, security and values of our homeland,” Coleman said in a statement.

Coleman, of New Orleans, has been on the board of the Coast Guard Foundation since 1997. He is chairman of the museum association and chairman of International Matex Tank Terminals in New Orleans.

“His commitment to, and leadership of, the National Coast Guard Museum project will ensure that the rich and deep history of the Coast Guard is documented for all Americans to witness,” Robert J. Flynn, chairman of the foundation’s board, said in a statement. “For his support of the Coast Guard, we are eternally grateful.”

In April, Adm. Robert J. Papp, the Coast Guard commandant, announced the proposed location and designs for the museum, which is intended to be built in the New London, Conn., waterfront district, adjacent to the city's train station and ferry terminals.

Plans include a four-story, 54,300-square-foot building with four floors of interactive exhibits, event space and lecture rooms, as well as a reception area with a gift shop and cafe.

Plans also anticipate docking the Coast Guard's tall ship, Barque Eagle, at an adjacent pier, serving as an additional attraction. A pedestrian overpass across the railroad tracks will connect the museum with the local ferry terminal and train station, helping to usher visitors as they come to experience the museum.

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