Canaveral Port Authority Commissioners Choose Wayne Justice to Lead the Board in Challenging Times
By Space Coast Daily // December 12, 2020
Jerry Allender elected vice-chairman, Robyn Hattaway was tapped as secretary/treasurer
WATCH: The leadership of Port Canaveral is in great hands as retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Wayne Justice was elected as chairman of the Port Canaveral Commission during a meeting of the five-member Canaveral Port Authority board last week. During his 37-year military career, Justice’s life changed dramatically when he was selected for the coveted position of military aide to the President of the United States. Commissioner Justice then served both President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. Wherever the Presidents went, Justice went. He lived in the White House and traveled aboard Air Force One to all four corners of the globe.
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The leadership of Port Canaveral is in great hands as retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Wayne Justice was elected as chairman of the Port Canaveral Commission during a meeting of the five-member Canaveral Port Authority board last week.
In other leadership changes, District 1 Commissioner Jerry Allender was elected as vice-chairman and District 5 Commissioner Robyn Hattaway was tapped as secretary/treasurer for the coming year.
Justice, who was first elected as a Port Commissioner representing District 3 in 2014, will be serving his second stint as the CPA Chair, having served as chairman in 2018.
“I would like to thank my fellow Commissioners for their unanimous support,” said Justice.
“Recognizing the monumental challenge this year has brought, I want to commend outgoing Chairman (Micah) Loyd’s efforts along with the Port Staff that have gotten us through to this point. There is still a large mountain to climb until this Port is back on its feet.”
Justice retired as a two-star Admiral after a 37-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard and is a maritime consultant.
“I look forward to continuing to use my senior military officer experience with sudden budgetary contractions and expansions, at the highest levels of government, of a large agency, to continue Port Canaveral’s recovery!”
Admiral Justice Served as Military Aide to President of the United States
Admiral Justice can never complain of having endured a boring job, for his career in the Coast Guard has taken him from captaining anti-drug running ships to assisting the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America.
He has been part of President George Bush’s wallyball (also known as rebound volleyball) team at Camp David. He has been at the helm of multi-million-dollar drug seizures off the Bahamas.
He rescued thousands of Cuban and Haitian refugees. He was the man literally strapped to the “satchel,” the suitcase that carries the nuclear code for the President of the United States.
Justice’s story begins in Staten Island, where his father was a public health physician.
A graduate of the New York City public school system, Justice, like his father, chose public service, earning a degree from the Coast Guard Academy in 1977.
After a stint in fisheries patrol off the coast of New England, Justice was sent to the warmer waters of Florida as head of a 95-foot patrol boat moored in Rivera Beach.
“I’m 23 years old and in command of this boat that is tasked with seizing tons of drugs from Jamaica and the Bahamas,” he said.
“It was madness. We would get rammed by Jamaican mother ships. We shot machine guns. It was absolute cowboys and Indians.”
First On the Scene of Mariel Boatlift
Those “good old days” of the early 1980s law enforcement were soon replaced by even more demanding work, as drugs evolved to more sophisticated options than bulk marijuana, and drug dealers would try to save their valuable cargo from the Coast Guard by using everything from sophisticated secret compartments to semi-submersibles that were almost impossible to detect.
“Our last seizure was a Mexican fishing boat with almost 10 tons of uncut cocaine,” said Justice.
“It was so important that the Mexican government sent a ship to protect us. It was the largest seizure at the time.”
Over the course of his career, Justice’s cutters seized 40-drug smuggling vessels, over 140 tons of marijuana and cocaine, and arrested more than 135 smugglers.
Human cargo was also on Justice’s radar, for his ships patrolled an area of the ocean teeming with refugees.
“The first boat we picked up was the very first Cuban boat from the Mariel boatlift,” he said.
“Cuban families from Miami were also paying cash for these derelict boats to go to Cuba and pick up their relatives, and we had to stop these unsafe vessels. We found a lot of people trying to get out of Cuba. We also found empty rafts.”
The Cubans were not the only ones trying to escape their beleaguered homeland.
“The Haitian refugees were truly in dangerous situations,” said Justice.
“One time, we found 230 Haitians stacked like cordwood in a 50-foot sailboat. The people at the bottom were unconscious or dead. At that point, the Haitians were happy to see us, even though we would take them back to Port au Prince.”
Justice remembers the Christmas of 1989, when the Haitian government, because of the holiday, would not take the 200 of their citizens that Justice and his men had delivered to Haiti’s capital. There was nothing to do but settle back on the boat and wait for the next day.
“We ended up spending a very nice Christmas with them,” said Justice.
Justice was involved in the rescue of more than 4,500 Haitian, Chinese, Ecuadorian and Cuban immigrants.
ADDRESS: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Justice’s life changed dramatically when the Coast Guard selected him as one of five candidates for the coveted position of military aide to the President of the United States. One representative from each of the military services is assigned to this critical position.
“A White House limo picked me up at the airport and I headed to 30 different interviews for the job,” said Justice.
“They wanted to get a good feel for the type of person you were.”
Justice got the job and spent the next two years shadowing President George H. W. Bush.
Wherever the President went, Justice went. He lived in the White House and traveled aboard Air Force One to all four corners of the globe.
On weekends, he followed President Bush to Camp David. The job provided an incredible vantage point into the life of the Commander in Chief.
“President Bush loved Camp David,” said Justice.
“After church, he would set up the teams for wallyball games. If you were any good, he put you on his team. If you were not, he would put you on the other team. He didn’t like losing.”
It didn’t matter if a guest was important. If he couldn’t play well, he was “fired” from the “Bush League,” such as was the case with Arnold Schwarzernegger.
“As big and strong as Schwarzernegger was, he couldn’t play volleyball, so he was fired,” said Justice.
Dedicated Public Servant
After retirement in 2010, Justice segued into a career as a maritime consultant and expert witness, providing counsel on maritime issues and expert testimony in maritime cases.
The latest chapter in his life is his job as District 3 Commissioner for Canaveral Port Authority.
Given his previous extensive maritime and Coast Guard command experience, the retired Rear Admiral could be the most qualified commissioner in the Canaveral Port Authority’s more than 50-year history.
“Being on the Port Commission is about helping the region grow in a managed way,” said Justice.
“We do not have a wall around the Port and everything that happens at the Port has an impact on the community.”
For Justice, being a Port Commissioner is another milestone in a life he considers incredibly charmed.
“You pinch yourself and you do your best,” said Justice, who is exactly the right man to lead the Port during these challenging times.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS