Friday and Saturday were busy days for the Kodiak Coast Guard Base. Air Station Kodiak accepted two awards for an even busier day they had in January of this year when it took part in two rescue missions. Captain Melissa Rivera is the commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak and said the first award came through the Coast Guard Foundation.
Award 1 :41 “They have an annual award and all the air
crews that flew on the January 25th, the morning of the 25th
the whole fishing vessel Kimberly and
fishing vessel Heritage all the crews involved with that C-130 and H1-60
helicopter crews are being recognized for the foundation award. The other award
is through the Coast Guard Aviation Association. We call them the ptaradactyls,
but it’s coast guard aviators, probably mostly retired, that have annual awards
to recognize, ones for a fixed wing air crew of the year, and one’s for a
rotary wing air crew of the year and then another award that’s being recognized
there on Saturday the 13th is one of our petty officers whose being
recognized as the aviation maintenance petty officer of the year.”)
Rivera said the awards and recognition
speaks volumes to the caliber of crews here in Kodiak.
Award 2 :34 “I would say first of all it says to me
that we have fantastic folks here who train hard everyday to go out in the most
challenging area of responsibility in the coast guard to perform aviation
missions. So they train real hard at it, and when a case comes up it’s almost
always the real deal. It’s almost always a real emergency, real distress and
can be exceptionally challenging with time, distance, weather, terrain and in
this case conditions with cold and icing. So they train real hard so they can
go out and do a good job when the alarm goes off.”)
Commander Mark Vislay is the operations
officer for Air Station Kodiak and said he remembers the two cases of the
fishing vessel Kimberly and fishing vessel Heritage very well.
Award 3 :42 “The recognition is wonderful for the crews
that actually flew. Myself I was just kind of the manager of the case if you
will that evening. It was a busy night, the Kimberly Heritage case was probably
one that will always go down in my memory. Some particulars of it the evening started out with basically
after we got the call about the Kimberly that was aground and in pretty bad
shape and we found out there were some heavy winds and our aircraft went and
lost comms. So we actually lost comms with our aircraft for roughly about an
hour and fifteen, hour and a half. And sometimes when a 60’s down low in a hole
like that comms can get pretty bad. So that kind of stirs up adrenaline,
emotions start running. So me and the CO actually came in, previous to Capt.
Rivera it was Capt. Deal. We came in that evening, basically we’re now
concerned of our own folks. Luckily about that time when I called Capt. Deal
the second time we had regained comms.”)
said the helicopter couldn’t get to the crew of the Kimberly at the time but
maintained continuous coverage to make sure no one went in the water.
Award 4 :38 “So we had aircraft our plan was to
continually keep aircraft going out to scene constantly, but aircraft and crew
were getting beat up pretty bad. So we can fly up to six hours in one shot, if
you will, and then we have to go into crew rest. That evening crews were
getting about four hours on them the weather was so bad, when they were coming
back completely fatigued and exhausted so we were switching out crews. And it
just so happened in the middle of this I think it was the third aircraft we
were launching to the Kimberly, as soon as they got airborn we all over heard
it, the channel 16 call when the ops ended, we’re going down. So we immediately
made the call to divert that helo, the Kimberly, we have eyes on it, the C130’s
overhead so we diverted that crew.”)
said the crews were able to rescue the crewmembers of both the Heritage and the
Kimberly that day and he said the awards are fitting because the crews made
something very difficult seem easy. The rescues were done in 25 foot seas, 60
knot winds in the dead of night with blowing snow and no moonlight.
foundation award was given in New York
City on Friday and the aviation association award was
presented on Saturday.