U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca returns to homeport. U.S Coast Guard

Stories that make you proud to have been associated with the Coast Guard.

united states coast guard

R 101555Z NOV 21
ALCOAST 414/21
SSIC 1650

1. COMDT (CG-7) is honored to announce the recipients of the Captain
Frank A. Erickson and Commander Elmer F. Stone Aviation Awards for
2021. The Coast Guard Aviation Association sponsors these annual
awards to recognize Coast Guard rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircrews
who have demonstrated exceptional performance while engaged in
Search and Rescue operations.

2. The Captain Frank A. Erickson Award is presented to the HITRON
crew of CGNR 6606, LCDR Jesse Keyser, LT Rachel Rychtanek, and AET1
James Mann, in recognition of their heroic efforts during deployment
aboard USCGC SENECA. On 08 November 2020, Hurricane ETA ravaged
Central America with concentrated destruction and damage in
Honduras, causing at least 58 deaths and over $5 billion in damage
to critical infrastructure, affecting a population of 2.9 million.
Attached to USCGC SENECA, the crew of CGNR 6606 reacted quickly and
effectively in assisting the Honduran people from 11-13 November
2020. USCGC SENECA was diverted to the eastern coast of Honduras for
Hurricane Aid/SAR support following the impact of Hurricane ETA.
TACON was shifted to US Naval Forces Southern Command/US Fourth
Fleet, and SENECA received tasking and operated under Joint Task
Force-Bravo (JTF-B) and Command Task Force-45 (CTF-45). SENECA was
the first maritime asset to reach the eastern side of Honduras,
with CGNR 6606 as the first and sole air asset on-scene in eastern
Honduras. CGNR 6606 led response operations across a 60-square
nautical mile area, from the Honduran shoreline south to the
Honduras-Nicaragua border. CGNR 6606 identified and overcame the
challenges of operating in an unfamiliar, rural area in foreign
airspace, including inadequate and outdated charts, no air traffic
control, and a substantial language barrier. CGNR 6606 acquired
internet-based DoD Joint Operations Grapic (JOG) charts, assisted
in reconnaissance of critical infrastructure in the region, and
helped develop a working air rescue plan for relocation of trauma
patients and supply aid. This important work was pivotal in laying
the groundwork for sustained multi-service air support in the
eastern Honduras operating area over the coming weeks. JTF-B tasked
CGNR 6606 for a MEDEVAC at a remote, inland location south of Puerto
Lempira near the Honduras-Nicaragua border. The aircrew successfully
navigated 60 miles of unfamiliar mountainous terrain, and flew under
and around low ceilings and thunderstorms with dangerous updrafts
and downdrafts. CGNR 6606 located the village, reported severe
flooding, and observed significant damage to the village structures
and limited infrastructure. CGNR 6606 identified a small patch of
farmland as the primary landing zone and conducted a confined area
landing to survivors waiving frantically for assistance. CGNR 6606
was met by two military officers in uniform escorting a third
uniformed officer in evident pain. CGNR 6606 ensured the patient was
ready for transport and executed low-power margin takeoff, clearing
dust and debris for a rapid climb above the surrounding village
obstacles. CGNR 6606 proceeded back northbound through precipitation
and around localized thunderstorms to transfer the patient.
CGNR 6606 was then tasked to proceed to a remote coastal village
approximately 30 NM Northwest of Puerto Lempira for an urgent
MEDEVAC. Once on scene, CGNR 6606 displayed ingenuity by orbiting
around the village church to direct citizens to congregate there.
CGNR 6606 performed a confined area landing adjacent to the church
and identified an elderly, diabetic, double amputee in need of
immediate higher medical care. Low on fuel, CGNR 6606 departed to
CGC SENECA offshore for refuel and subsequent return. While en route
back to the village, CGNR 6606 experienced an Automatic Flight
Control System (AFCS) yaw system failure, which significantly
increased the difficulty and risk of confined area landings. CGNR
6606 elected to proceed on its assigned mission, conducted another
confined area landing, and embarked the wheelchair-bound survivor.
CGNR 6606 departed scene facing inclement weather and began to weigh
the risks of continued confined area landings with the onset of
fatigue and a degraded aircraft. CGNR 6606 identified a primitive
dirt strip at the Puerto Lempira Airfield for landing and survivor
transfer to an awaiting vehicle. The crew of CGNR 6606’s bravery and
aeronautical skill resulted in two lives saved with several hundreds
more saved and assisted through delivery of lifesaving supplies and
forward operating location establishment for medical and military
personnel. Leading the rescue efforts during the critical first few
days of the aftermath of Hurricane ETA, the crew of CGNR 6606
demonstrated unwavering dedication to the Coast Guard’s humanitarian
life-saving mission. CGNR 6606 confronted flight in an unfamiliar
mountainous region with navigation hazards and landed safely in
multiple unprepared confined areas. Furthermore, the aircrew
leveraged local military and government officials’ expertise while
managing “fog-of-war” complexities following a destructive Category
4 hurricane in a third-world country. CGNR 6606’s exceptional
actions and heroism undoubtedly advanced rescue efforts for eastern
Honduras for response to Hurricane ETA, as well as Hurricane IOTA,
which struck the same area just ten days later.

3. The following nominees were also recommended for this award and
deserve honorable mention for their heroic actions:
Air Station Houston, CGNR 6501 – M/T CHRYSANTHEMUM
CG SECTOR North Bend, CGNR 6032 – Greyback Mountain Rescue
CG SECTOR San Diego, CGNR 6014 and CGNR 6003 – Disabled Adrift

4. The Commander Elmer F. Stone Award is presented to the Air
Station Barbers Point crew of CGNR 1720, LCDR Tucker Rodeffer,
LT Jack Emmons, AMT2 Jacob Desmarais, AET3 Anders Forsberg,
AEMT2 Charles Camarda, AET2 Trenton Garza, and AET3 Clinton
Carpenter, in recognition of their heroic efforts on 22 December
2020, District 14 received a request from the island nation of
Kiribati for assistance with Search and Rescue (SAR). A fisherman
from Betio Temakin, Tarawa, had disembarked three friends at an
atoll to go spearfishing. When he did not return in his 20 ft
wooden skiff, they notified the authorities. Since all possible
staging locations for the case were closed due to COVID-19, the
Air Station Barbers Point duty crew worked with State Department
officials and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to secure
Kwajalein Atoll, the first time a Coast Guard crew had been allowed
landing access since the pandemic began. After arriving in
Kwajalein, the CGNR 1720 crew was placed in strict quarantine when
not in flight and subject to daily screenings involving twice daily
temperature and blood oxygen checks, a protocol and operational
template which has since been implemented to enable numerous SAR
crews to operate from this location. The search effort involved five
days deployed away from home station and consisted of 29.4 hours of
searching and a total of 45.2 hours flown. During three days of
searching, the crew flew four hours round-trip from Kwajalein and
navigated more than 500 NM through convective activity, embedded
thunderstorms, and turbulence to reach the search area. On the final
day of the search and in the last search box, the Basic Aircrewman
sighted an object in the water from the left hand scanner window.
The Sensor System Operator quickly identified the object as the
missing skiff. The survivor was clearly emaciated from spending
five days at sea without food or water. The Navigator detected a
fishing vessel 25 NM north of the skiff, but a language barrier
prevented effective communication. Working with a translator at
District 14, the Radio Operator vectored a good-Samaritan vessel,
the F/V JABUUK, toward the skiff. After two hours on-scene, the
Flight Engineer of CGNR 1720 noticed an unidentified, co-altitude
helicopter en-route to their position. CG-1720 quickly maneuvered
to de-conflict with the other aircraft and assisted with expediting
the rescue. The helicopter had launched from the F/V JABUUK.
CGNR 1720 remained on-scene and served as cover while the good-
Samaritan and the helicopter rescued the emaciated fisherman.
Superior airmanship, comprehensive aircraft and procedural
knowledge, well-veiled operational risk management, and exceptional
crew coordination all combined to successfully complete the unit’s
most complex rescue of 2020 resulting in one life saved.

5. I extend my personal congratulations to the award winners, and
to each of the nominated aircrews. Through your actions, you
demonstrated the highest levels of courage and professionalism.
Your efforts are in keeping with the highest traditions of our

6. RDML Todd C. Wiemers, Assistant Commandant for Capability
(CG-7), sends.

7. Internet release is authorized.

Coast Guard C130J

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