Norwich Rotary awards retired Coast Guard captain with 'Native Son' award

Norwich — Retired U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski was named Tuesday as the 2018 recipient of the Norwich Native Son Award by the Norwich Rotary Clubs and Woman’s City Club.

Cubanski, 52, most recently served as U.S. Coast Guard Sector Commander for Long Island Sound. After retirement in July 2016, Cubanski moved to Saratoga Springs, where his wife, Shirley Cagle is from, and now works for FedEx Ground as an operations manager.

He is the son of Edward and Laura Cubanski, now deceased, and has a brother, Brian Cubanski. The family started in Taftville, but their house caught fire when young Ed was about 4 or 5. He was told someone threw him out of a window into the arms of a firefighter. The family lived with his grandmother for a time in Greeneville before they purchased a house on Hunters Road.

While serving in the Coast Guard, he logged over 3,000 flight hours, was awarded five Meritorious Service Medals, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, among several other personal and unit awards.

The Norwich Native Son / Daughter Award recognizes outstanding achievements by Norwich natives who reached those achievements while living outside the Norwich area.

Selection committee Chairman Mike Cooney said the committee received “a number of extremely qualified nominations once again this year.” The award will be presented to Cubanski during a luncheon ceremony at noon May 30 at the Holiday Inn in Norwich. Tickets will be $15, and will be available at www.norwichrotary.org. A full listing of all 50 prior honorees also is posted on the website.

"I'm humbled by the honor," Cubanski said Tuesday. "When I look at the list of who has won it, I was humbled even more."

Cubanski, a 1984 graduate of Norwich Regional Technical High School and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, was nominated by his aunt, Ann M. Carignan of Norwich.

Cubanski said he's sure his mother's sisters, Carignan and Carol Girono of Westerly will be "as proud about this as my mother would have been."

Cubanski attended Wequonnoc Elementary School in Taftville, Greeneville Elementary School, John Moriarty Elementary School and Kelly Junior High School. At Norwich Tech, he earned a Bronze Medal in the 1983 National Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, and a Silver Medal in the 1984 competition.

Cubanski earned the Eagle Scout Award with six palms in Boy Scouts Troop 4 Norwich.

After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy with a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering, he earned his master's degree in 2004 in aviation business administration at Embry-Riddle University.

He started his Coast Guard career in 1988, serving as an engineering officer-in-training aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Chase. In 1992, he completed Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Fla.

From 1992-96, he served as a HAZMAT officer and Aviation Engineering Special Services Branch Chief Air Station Miami. From 1997-98, he served as unit development planning officer at Air Station Miami. In 1998-2000, he was a polar operations senior aviator in Mobile, Ala.

He then served as a project manager for HITRON – Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron – Ship Helo and Polar Operations and then as operations officer – (HITRON) in Jacksonville, Fla.

In 2006, he became commander-executive officer Air Station Atlantic City. In 2008, he was made commanding officer, Air Station New Orleans and Eighth District incident management branch chief in 2010.

In June of 2013, he was named Sector Commander Long Island Sound, where he led over 2,600 Coast Guard active duty, reserve and auxiliary personnel in Connecticut and New York.

Throughout his career, Cubanski was active in local civic and cultural groups in the community where he was stationed. Cubanski has been the president of the New London Maritime Society since November 2016.

From September 2013 to November 2015, Cubanski served as the executive vice president of the Lordship Father’s Club in Stratford, which supports schools, neighbors and family events. In New Orleans, he led a small group to overhaul a school playground severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Cubanski credited his years in Norwich public schools and Norwich Tech for his successful career, thanking his teachers for challenging him to do better in school and in competitions. At Kelly Junior High, he said he learned one of the most valuable of skills — how to touch-type on a manual Smith-Corona typewriter.

At Norwich Tech, Cubanski said, teachers became mentors and coaches. He recalled arguing with civics teacher Jim Koch that he should have received a higher grade. Koch responded: "You want an A? Give me A-grade work."

Jack Lonardelli, an electrician teacher, pushed him into state and national competitions, where he won top medals. Cubanski said he keeps track of the school and is pleased that Norwich Tech still wins national medals in trade competitions. Nick and Liz Curcio urged him in the vocational industrial clubs, and "stress tested me" for competitions.

"There wasn't one teacher at Norwich Tech who didn't challenge me to do my best," Cubanski said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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