Coast Guard Aviation Association Awards
Each year the Coast Guard Aviation Association honors active duty aviation personnel by recognizing outstanding achievement. Awards include the The Victor Roulund Rescue Swimmer Meritorious Achievement Award, the Captain Gus Shrode Flight Safety Award, the Chief Oliver Berry Aviation Maintenance Award, the Commander Elmer Stone Fixed Wing Rescue Award, and the Captain Frank Erickson Rotary Wing Rescue Award. See below for award descriptions as well as past and present recipients.
Captain Marion “Gus” Shrode
Flight Safety Award
AirSta Clearwater Av Safety Dept
LCDR Heather Majeska
LCDR Dave McCarthy
LT Dustin Burton,
LT David Wright,
LTJG Carter Schlank,
MST1 Lizette Guiterrez
During the period of 01 June 2016 to 31 May 2017, the Clearwater Safety Department exhibited extraordinary performance. They created a Facility Emergency Action Plan that provided all members of the unit with initial actions and steps during base emergencies; implemented innovative risk management solutions to identify, assess, and control hazards; improved effectiveness of unit feedback to advance air station assurance activities; and enhanced the safety culture of the unit through tireless promotion and training.
This Safety Department developed a robust Commanding Officer’s Aviation Safety Policy Statement plus they reorganized and rewrote the unit’s Mishap Response Plan (MRP) which optimized communication, improved chain of command access to critical post-mishap information and codified best practices to ensure the preservation of perishable evidence. As a result of their efforts, this product has been recognized by COMDT (CG-1131) as a best-practice and has become a template for all future MRPs.
Finally, they enhanced the Operational Risk Management (ORM) brief to include the evaluation of mission gain, not simply evaluating risk to the crew. This enabled aircrews to better assess the mission while balancing crew safety and mission execution. The ASCW Safety Department embodies the Commandant’s guiding principles of Duty to People and Commitment to Excellence.
THEIR PERFORMANCE IS IN KEEPING WITH THE LEGACY OF CAPTAIN SHRODE AND A CREDIT TO COAST GUARD AVIATION AND THE PROFESSION OF AVIATION SAFETY.
The Victor Roulund Rescue Swimmer Meritorious Achievement Award
Awarded every 2 years, last awarded in 2017:
ASTCM John F. Hall, USCG
ASTCM Scott Dyer, USCG (Ret.)
AST1 Richard “Rick” McElrath, USCG (Ret.)
During the period of 1 June 2014 to 31 May 2015 LT Crowley exhibited superior performance as both the Flight and Ground Safety Officer for Air Station Houston. Working closely with the Air Station Houston command cadre, LT Crowley worked tirelessly to forge an open reporting culture that was founded on the Just Culture ethos and the Commandant’s core values. As a result, Air Station Houston set the standard for the Coast Guard Aviation Community in mishap response, analysis and reporting all of which culminated in a significant reduction in the Air Station Houston mishap rate.
Master Chief John Hall
Master Chief Hall is cited for his work as the Aviation Survival Technician (AST) Branch Chief at the Coast Guard’s Aviation Technical Training Center (ATTC) in Elizabeth City, NC. Master Chief Hall, with great leadership, technical skill and initiative, has made tremendous training program innovations and recommendations, which have resulted in an expansion of the curriculum to include an AST preparation course for those with orders to AST “A” School, a formalized and fully supported student re-phase program for ASTs in training with minor injuries, formalization of the Operational Fitness Trainer “C” School for field rescue swimmers, and vast improvements to the galley service at Base Elizabeth City to support the nutritional requirements of AST training.
ASTCM Scott Dyer, USCG (Ret.)
Master Chief Scott Dyer is cited for his three decades of dedicated service to the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer program. After being one of the first ten Coast Guard graduates of the U.S. Navy’s rescue swimmer school, Master Chief Dyer was instrumental in serving as one of the key instructors who trained and prepared the first CG helo rescue swimmers at 24 field Air Stations. He made lasting contributions to the development of Direct Deployment procedures, the folding Rescue Basket to meet aircraft cabin size restrictions, the Tri-Laminate Dry Suit, the development of CG HH-60 RS procedures, and the development and implementation of Ice Rescue Procedures. As the only Enlisted Branch Chief at the CG’s Aviation Training Center in Mobile, AL, Master Chief Dyer led the Helo RS Standardization Team, ensuring operational procedures were enforced fleet-wide. In addition, he also served as the School Chief for the Advanced Rescue Swimmer School in Astoria, OR, developing and implementing concepts, verifying the curriculum, while evaluating numerous RS procedures and associated equipment. While stationed at CGHQ as the Helo RS Program Mrg., Master Chief Dyer was temporarily detailed to ATC Mobile to supervise & manage all aspects of the Helo RS response during Hurricane Katrina. Finally, Master Chief Dyer also contributed to the RS program by his work contributions as the CG’s Aviation Life Support Equipment Program manager at the Aircraft Repair & Supply Center, now the Air Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC.
AST1 Richard “Rick” McElrath, USCG (Ret.)
Petty Officer McElrath is cited for his service of almost 20 years in the Coast Guard as an Aviation Survivalman (ASM) / Aviation Survival Technician (AST). One of the first 20 CG Helicopter Rescue Swimmers, Petty Officer McElrath was a graduate of the CG’s Advanced RS School, and was an exceptional RS at two Air Stations. But, his more important contributions to the CG’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Program have come after his CG Service. Serving first as a Field Terminal Operator at AIRSTA Sitka, AK, Petty Officer McElrath maintained the AIRSTA’s aircraft maintenance publications on his own installed intranet to circumvent numerous Internet outages, allowing all types of aircraft maintenance to continue. Moving to the CG’s Air Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC, he is the Center’s Aviation Life Support Equipment Specialist, where he has supported the CG’s Helo RS Program either directly, or indirectly. Some of his accomplishments include: revised the COMDT Instruction – Aviation Life Support Manual, created & illustrated an Aviation Life Support Process Guide, revised & published the Shallow Water Egress Training Process Guide used for Shallow Water Egress Training (SWET), created or revised all Aviation Life Support Equipment Maintenance Procedure Cards (MPCs), manages the CG’s Aviation Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Program (1,800+ PLBs at 25 aviation units), cradle to grave discovery, procurement, testing & evaluation, & implementation of the MH-60T auxiliary hoisting system, ensuring mission success, improved safety, & triple risk mitigation during all hoisting evolutions. His vast and timeless experience and expertise in the CG’s Aviation Life Support Program has proven critical to the success of the office, and to the CG’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Program.
Captain Frank Erickson
Rotary Wing Rescue Award
Sector North Bend crew of CGNR 6559
LT Zachary M. Wiest
LT Wesley C. Jones
AMT1 Jason R. Caristo
AST3 Chad M. Morris
The Captain Frank A. Erickson Award is presented to Sector North Bend crew of CGNR 6559, LT Wiest, LT Jones, AMT2 Caristo, and AST3 Morris, in recognition of their heroic efforts on 14 February 2017, responding to two people trapped inside a waterline cave near Yachats, Oregon. The crew of 6559 conducted a coastal search and observed a State Trooper lying on his stomach at the top of a 50 foot sheer cliff illuminating a cave entrance with a flashlight. Shortly thereafter, a survivor emerged, plunged into the 50 degree water and began frantically waving his arms. LT Jones immediately recognized that only 10 minutes of on scene flight time remained. Noting that high tide would not return for another two hours the crew made the difficult decision to return to Air Facility Newport to refuel. This ultimately allowed the crew more time to evaluate the treacherous hoisting area inundated with 30 knot turbulent winds and 8 foot crashing waves.
Upon returning to the scene, it was determined that the safest place to deploy the Rescue Swimmer was to a small group of rocks at water level directly outside the cave opening. Since the prevailing winds were from the South, LT Wiest, in the left seat, conducted the hoists with the unobstructed visibility of the rising terrain. Despite widely varying power requirements and blinding headlights from vehicles transiting on an adjacent highway, LT Wiest maintained a 200 foot hover with the assistance of LT Jones handling all external communications and monitoring aircraft systems to ensure helicopter limitations were not exceeded. Visually impaired by darkness and distance, AMT2 Caristo carefully managed the large swing arc and kept AST3 Morris and the hoist cable from impacting the knife edge cliff. Executing the hoists with the hoisting door away from the cliff, AMT2 Caristo precisely deployed AST3 Morris to the targeted group of rocks. Without hesitation, AST3 Morris disconnected from the hoist hook and made his way to the cave entrance. AST3 Morris struggled through chest deep water and breaking surf with only a small flashlight to reach the cave entrance and the barely visible victim. Upon reaching the first survivor, AST3 Morris quickly calmed the frantic young man as he tried to assess the deteriorating situation. The survivor was extremely hypothermic, bleeding from head to toe, with large cuts and gouges on his legs.
The survivor informed AST3 Morris that his friend had fallen into the water and that he jumped in after him in an attempt to save his life. The two survivors stayed together for approximately 15 minutes immersed in the cold ocean, when suddenly they were picked up by a large wave, thrown against the sharp rocks, and swept into a cave. Fearing that he could possibly lose the most critical survivor, AST3 Morris trudged 60 feet into the cave to find the second victim. In doing so, AST3 Morris had to blindly navigate sharp rocks and deep crevasses to reach the back of the cavern. Locating and towing the semi-conscious survivor, AST3 Morris, slowly retraced his steps to the cave entrance. He reacquired the first survivor and brought them to the hoisting area. As the helicopter lowered the rescue device, AST3 Morris used all of his physical strength to shield the survivors from the crashing waves. The crew agreed on the utilization of three trail lines, totaling 315 feet, to maintain adequate control of the rescue devices and the recoveries of AST3 Morris and the survivors. After two difficult hoists into the helicopter, the two young men were delivered safely to emergency medical personnel where they made a full recovery.
Commander Elmer Stone
Fixed Wing Rescue Award
Air Station Cape Cod crew of CGNR 2317
The Commander Elmer F. Stone Award is presented to Air Station Cape Cod crew of CGNR 2317, CDR Hester, LCDR O’Brien, AMT2 Guillermo, and AMT3 Carter, in recognition of their heroic efforts on 1 December 2016, in responding to a critically ill newborn on Martha’s Vineyard. The crew of 2317 was dispatched from Air Station Cape Cod as a severe winter storm passed through the region, grounding civilian life flight services. In visibility barely above the minimum required for takeoff, 2317 departed for Boston’s Logan Airport to retrieve a specialized neonatal team comprised of five medical professionals and an Isolette unit (incubator for newborns) needed to safeguard the infant during flight in the HC-144. After navigating through heavy rain which severely limited visibility and caused dramatic wind shear, CDR Hester initiated and successfully completed a challenging instrument approach, continuing below the minimum descent altitude with only the approach lighting system visible, before finally acquiring the runway at just 180 feet.
During the demanding approach, LCDR O’Brien acted as the Safety Pilot delivering calm and precise support enabling well coordinated Crew Resource Management to minimize the significant risks associated with operating in the region’s busiest airspace. After landing, AMT2 Guillermo and AMT3 Carter conducted a comprehensive safety brief, rapidly loaded the five member team and Isolette and completed an essential performance check to ensure all of the required medical equipment was functioning properly. With the weather deteriorating, 2317 departed for Martha’s Vineyard. While en route, LCDR O’Brien continuously updated the aircraft’s flight management system to reflect changing winds and weather conditions, calculated aircraft performance for the next phase of the mission, and coordinated with Air Traffic Control to request priority handling. Arriving in the terminal area of Martha’s Vineyard, the crew discovered that ceilings on the island had dropped to 200 feet, which compelled them to once again initiate another difficult instrument approach. Commander Hester flew the precision approach to a safe landing despite the treacherous wind shear that subjected the aircraft to dangerous and unpredictable buffeting just prior to touching down, at times requiring nearly full deflection of the flight controls to remain on profile.
Once on deck at the airport, Petty Officers Guillermo and Carter immediately took charge of the medical team and shepherded them safely off the aircraft and facilitated their movement around the hazardous spinning propellers. After working to stabilize the infant for two hours on deck, the neonatal team informed the air crew that the Isolette’s oxygen supply would be entirely depleted in 35 minutes, placing the newborn in grave danger. Racing against the clock, Petty Officers Guillermo and Carter quickly secured the Isolette and the medical team in the cabin for the turbulent flight back to Boston. 2317 proceeded directly to Logan Airport where LCDR O’Brien took the flight controls for the completion of the crew’s third instrument approach to landing, breaking out at the decision altitude. Expert coordination with Boston’s ground controllers allowed 2317 to rapidly taxi through the heavily trafficked airport, delivering the infant to advanced medical care with only minutes of oxygen remaining.
Chief Aviation Machinist Mate
Aviation Maintenance Award
AMT1 John Levi T. Berg, Aviation Logistics Center
AMT1 John Levi T. Berg of the aviation logistics center (ALC) has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 chief Oliver F. Berry Aviation Maintenance Award. Demonstrating exceptional leadership, superb technical expertise, and professionalism, he played a key role in the ALCS medium range recovery (MRR) product line and the entire MH-60 fleet. AMT1 Berg was instrumental in the final assembly, documentation review, and functional check flight support for nine H-60T helicopters. Despite a strict induction schedule, he led his team through four simultaneous aircraft maintenance evolutions – two PDM aircraft, one test and evaluation aircraft, and one Navy conversion aircraft.
His exceptional maintenance efforts led to the early completion of two Navy H-60 conversion aircraft utilized for the successful transition from H-65 to H-60T helicopters at air station traverse city. Distinguishing himself as MRR engineerings technical expert, AMT1 Berg assumed the role as the MH-60 fleets structural technical services and corrosion representative. In this capacity, he enhanced processes used on the product line and improved maintenance procedures for the H-60 fleet. AMT1 Berg’s actions resulted in an improved cold working process of main transmission beams saving hundreds of depot labor hours.
He implemented new repair procedures for changes in engine wire harnesses and he identified and authored a critical repair change to traffic alert antenna maintenance procedures. AMT1 Berg also reverse engineered the pilot/crew seat inspection and rebuild processes to make critical components uniform across the MH-60 fleet.