Notable People

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Rear Admiral Bennett S. Sparks

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SUBJ: IN MEMORIUM FOR RADM BENNETT S. "BUD" SPARKS

A. ALCOAST 316/09

1. IN REF (A), THE COMMANDANT ANNOUNCED THE PASSING OF REAR ADMIRAL

BENNETT S. "BUD" SPARKS ON MAY 22, 2009 IN WINDSOR, CALIFORNIA, AT

83 YEARS OF AGE. RADM SPARKS HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF A KIND,

A TRUE PATRIOT, A REAL LEGEND, AS WELL AS A LOVING FAMILY MAN. IN

AN INTERVIEW PUBLISHED IN THE MARCH/APRIL 2001 RESERVIST MAGAZINE,

RADM SPARKS WROTE THAT IF HE HAD ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE HIS MORE THAN

FIVE-DECADE COAST GUARD CAREER, (1942-89), IT WOULD HAVE TO BE

"OPPORTUNITY." THROUGHOUT HIS COAST GUARD CAREER, HE HAD MANY

OPPORTUNITIES AND ALWAYS MADE THE MOST OF THEM. HE WILL ALWAYS BE

REMEMBERED FONDLY BY THOSE WHO KNEW AND WORKED WITH HIM THROUGHOUT

THE YEARS.

2. BORN OCTOBER 10, 1925, IN PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, RADM SPARKS

JOINED THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD RESERVE IN DECEMBER 1942,

TAKING A TRAIN FROM ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA TO BOOT CAMP AT MANHATTAN

BEACH, NEW YORK. AFTER BOOT CAMP, HE SERVED IN ENLISTED RANKS FROM

SEAMAN RECRUIT/E-1 TO CHIEF PETTY OFFICER/E-7.

3. DURING WORLD WAR II, HE SERVED AS A COMBAT AIR CREWMAN ABOARD A

VARIETY OF COAST GUARD AIRCRAFT IN THE PACIFIC, ATLANTIC AND

EUROPEAN THEATERS, FLYING BOTH ANTI-SUBMARINE AND AIR-SEA RESCUE

MISSIONS. IN 1946, HE TRANSFERRED TO THE REGULAR COAST GUARD, AND

IN 1957, RECEIVED A FIELD PROMOTION TO ENSIGN. AS A PILOT, HE FLEW

AS BOTH A COAST GUARD AND CIVILIAN AVIATOR IN ALASKA FROM 1946 TO

1957 ON MAPPING MISSIONS FOR THE U.S. COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY

(WHICH BECAME PART OF THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC

ADMINISTRATION IN 1970).

4. FROM 1966 TO 1989, RADM SPARKS HELD NINE CONSECUTIVE COMMANDS:

FOUR COAST GUARD UNITS, THREE COAST GUARD GROUPS, AND TWO U.S. NAVY

MARITIME DEFENSE ZONE SECTORS. HE ALSO SERVED AS DISTRICT INSPECTOR

FOR THE ELEVENTH COAST GUARD DISTRICT AND AS SENIOR COAST GUARD

RESERVE OFFICER FOR THE PACIFIC AREA IN SAN FRANCISCO AND THE

ATLANTIC AREA IN NEW YORK. HE COMMANDED THE UNITED STATES NAVY

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MARITIME DEFENSE ZONE HEADQUARTERED IN SAN

FRANCISCO AND LATER THE MARITIME DEFENSE ZONE SECTOR SIX AT THE

U.S. NAVY BASE IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA.

5. RADM SPARKS TRAINING INCLUDED THE NAVAL WAR COLLEGE, NATIONAL

WAR COLLEGE, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY, INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE OF THE

ARMED FORCES, AND THE ARMY WAR COLLEGE. NOMINATED BY PRESIDENT

REAGAN FOR FLAG RANK IN THE USCGR IN FEBRUARY 1985, HE WAS PROMOTED

TO REAR ADMIRAL (UPPER HALF) IN 1987.

6. IN 1989, HE SERVED AS CHAIRMAN OF THE STRATEGIC PLANNING AND

RESERVE CAPABILITY STUDY (SPARCS-89). THIS STUDY POSED A BROADER

DEFINITION OF THE RESERVE COMPONENTS NATIONAL SECURITY MISSION,

SERVING AS A LONG-RANGE BLUE PRINT FOR THE COAST GUARD RESERVE AND

PROVIDING THE THEORETICAL BASIS FOR COAST GUARD-WIDE INTEGRATION OF

ACTIVE AND RESERVE FORCES. IN JULY 1989, HE RETIRED FROM THE

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD RESERVE AFTER 47 YEARS OF SERVICE.

7. MAINTAINING HIS INVOLVEMENT, RADM SPARKS BECAME THE FIRST COAST

GUARDSMAN TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT FOR THE RESERVE OFFICERS

ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES. HE ALSO SERVED AS THE NATIONAL

DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF

THE UNITED STATES IN WASHINGTON, DC FROM 1988-91, WITH ADDITIONAL

DUTIES AS DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION AND DIRECTOR OF FINANCE. IN

ADDITION, HE SERVED AS CHIEF OF THE UNITED STATES DELEGATION TO THE

INTER-ALLIED CONFEDERATION OF RESERVE OFFICERS (CIOR) AT NATO

HEADQUARTERS IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM. IN 1992, HE WAS APPOINTED TO A

TWO-YEAR TERM AS INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL OF CIOR, A

POSITION OPEN TO THE UNITED STATES ONLY EVERY 24 YEARS. HE WAS THE

FIRST COAST GUARD OFFICER TO EVER HOLD AN INTERNATIONAL POSITION IN

THE CIOR.

8. IN 1993, THE TOTAL FORCE AWARD WAS RENAMED THE RADM BENNETT S.

"BUD" SPARKS TOTAL FORCE AWARD IN HIS HONOR. THE AWARD IS

PRESENTED ANNUALLY BY THE RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF THE

UNITED STATES TO THE COAST GUARD UNIT JUDGED TO BE THE MOST

SUPPORTIVE OF A TOTALLY INTEGRATED COAST GUARD FORCE DEMONSTRATED

BY ITS EFFECTIVE USE OF COAST GUARD RESERVISTS.

9. RADM SPARKS IS SURVIVED BY FOUR CHILDREN, BENNETT JR., JAMES,

JOHN AND JULIEANN, A SISTER, DORIS LEDERMAN, 11 GRANDCHILDREN, 22

GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN, AND ONE GREAT-GREAT-GRANDCHILD. HIS WIFE OF

60-PLUS YEARS, ELIZABETH "BETTY" SPARKS, PREDECEASED HIM OCTOBER

28, 2005, AS DID TWO OTHER CHILDREN, RICHARD AND DONNA.

10. A FUNERAL SERVICE WILL BE HELD AT WELLS FARGO CENTER, SANTA

ROSA, CALIFORNIA AT NOON ON SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2009. INTERMENT

WILL FOLLOW AT SHILOH CEMETERY, WINDSOR, CALIFORNIA.

11. IN LIEU OF FLOWERS, THE FAMILY SUGGESTS MEMORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

IN HIS NAME TO COAST GUARD MUTUAL ASSISTANCE, 4200 WILSON

BOULEVARD, SUITE 60, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA 22203-1804, THE VETERANS

HOME OF CALIFORNIA YOUNTVILLE, P.O. BOX 1200, YOUNTVILLE,

CALIFORNIA 94599, OR THE ALZHEIMERS ASSOCIATION NORTH BAY CHAPTER,

4340 REDWOOD HIGHWAY, SUITE D314, SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA 94903.

12. RDML D. R. MAY, DIRECTOR OF RESERVE AND TRAINING, SENDS.

13. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.

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