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Longest-serving member of Coast Guard retires

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With a final salute from colleagues, the U.S. Coast Guard's longest-serving member retired after a 43-year career helping pluck stranded sailors from danger and patrolling the nation's waterways.

Joe Zimmer, a reservist master chief petty officer, was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal at a retirement ceremony Friday in Louisville, Ky.

"I saw a good thing and I stayed with it," said Zimmer, who turns 60 on Monday.

Zimmer, whose career as a New York City firefighter ended when he broke his back while battling a fire, spent his early years in the Coast Guard stationed on Long Island. In 1978, he moved inland to direct Coast Guard units monitoring traffic on the Ohio River.