On Thursday, April 17, the Coast Guard Foundation will celebrate the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard's Pacific Area, which stretches from the shores of the western United States to Alaska and Hawaii all the way to Guam and American Samoa. This is the 21st annual celebration of the service's work in the Pacific.
The 2014 winners of the Pacific Area Awards are the crew of the cutter Washington, a rescue swimmer from Air Station San Francisco, and a flight crew from Air Station Sitka. See below for detailed accounts of the awardees.
The Admiral John B. Hayes Award is presented to a unit within the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area that, by its overall achievement, best demonstrates a commitment to excellence and professionalism embodied in the traditions and lore of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Foundation is honored to award the Admiral John B. Hayes Award to the USCGC Washington. As Sector Guam’s sole Maritime patrol asset for a period of four months, WASHINGTON spent 19 of 24 days underway in sea states approaching 30 feet to conduct two search and rescue missions, saving nine people, conducting 20 boardings and two escorts, serving as on-scene commander for a search and rescue exercise and responding to a potential Exclusive Economic Zone incursion by a foreign fishing vessel. WASHINGTON flawlessly executed six more search and rescue cases and assisted in saving 23 people, including a heavy weather medical evacuation and a joint rescue of 10 mariners from a capsized sailing canoe. WASHINGTON patrolled throughout Micronesia conducting 104 vessel boardings, hosted two U.S. ambassadors, and made humanitarian deliveries while participating in Operation RAI BALANG, bolstering operational relationships with partner nations.
The Admiral James S. Gracey Award is presented to an individual within the Pacific Area who best exemplifies professionalism, devotion to duty, and excellence of the service. This year, we are honored to award AST3 Corey A. Fix, a rescue swimmer stationed at Air Station San Francisco. Through his heroic efforts, stamina and on-scene initiative, Petty Officer Fix rescued ten people during 19 search and rescue operations.In one case, he traversed dangerous rocky terrain on an 80 foot cliff to rescue two people with hypothermia who were being battered by six foot waves. In another case, he rescued a 260 pound hiker who was moments away from drowning after falling from a 200 foot cliff into a sea cave. During a daring night rescue, he evacuated six hypothermic hikers from a remote cove, treating and hoisting them to safety as the helicopter hovered within a few feet of rotor arc clearance to the immense sea cliffs.
The Admiral Chester R. Bender Award is presented to the individual, team, or crew within the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area who, through heroic action involving personal danger while in the performance of duty, best exemplifies the highest traditions of the U.S. Coast Guard. This year, we are honored to award a helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka, Alaska: LCDR James Gibson, pilot, LT Christopher Enoksen, co-pilot, AET2 Mark Newkirk, flight mechanic and AST3 David White, rescue swimmer. The crew of Coast Guard helicopter 6038 battled low clouds, heavy rain and less than a quarter mile visibility to search for a floatplane carrying seven passengers.Flying mere feet above the tree tops, the crew navigated through rising terrain to locate the only safe corridor to the crash site. Petty Officer White was hoisted through the trees to a heavily cluttered, 60 degree slope so he could climb down another 500 feet to assess the huddled survivors. Through unparalleled airmanship and professionalism, the crew of CG-6038 saved six lives and recovered the body of the last victim, exemplifying the highest traditions of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Photo Credits: Coast Guard Cutter Washington: Coast Guard photo by LTJG Justin Valentino. Air Station San Francisco: Coast Guard photo by LTJG Matthew Udkow.