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My Coast Guard
Commentary | May 20, 2021

Bravo Zulu

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

The 2019 Association for Rescue at Sea Award Recipients: Congratulations to Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Young and Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Newberg, both aviation survival technicians at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah for being named the 2019 Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) gold medal winners. This award is given annually to a Coast Guard enlisted member who exhibits exceptional courage and heroism during a rescue at sea. 

Both Young and Newberg served as rescue swimmers on Coast Guard helicopter 6531 and CG44 during the rescue of a survivor from the motor vehicle Golden Ray on September 8, 2019. The Golden Ray, a 656-foot cargo vessel suffered a fire and capsized in St. Simons Sound, Georgia. Young showed exceptional bravery in the face of adversity, being lowered 100 to 140 feet to recover several trapped crewmembers, including one who was severely injured. Newberg secured a section of the fire hose to the ship railing and rappelled into the bridge, where he located the trapped master and pilot. Newberg then lowered the pilot to the port bridge wing and an additional 40 feet to a rescue boat. Newberg  returned to the captain of the Golden Ray, who at first refused to leave the vessel without knowing the status of the crewmembers trapped below, and was able to extract him from the bridge and safely hoist him onto the helicopter after informing him of the status of his engine room crewmembers. Newberg finally conducted a survivor interview that shaped the next 36 hours of rescue operations, which focused on recovering the additional Golden Ray crewmembers trapped below. Young’s and Newberg’s actions directly saved the lives of six individuals, including locating four additional crewmembers trapped below deck. 

Congratulations also to auxiliarists Stephen Wyatt and Gloria Wyatt who were awarded the 2019 AFRAS silver medal. The silver medal is awarded annually to a deserving Coast Guard Auxiliarist for a heroic rescue or for lives saved in either inland or coastal waters. 

While out on their private boat, the Wyatts saved four people from a burning boat on the intercoastal waterway near Matanzas Inlet, St. Augustine, Florida on July 3, 2019. When the Wyatts saw the 40-foot motor cruiser Daydream was on fire, Stephen Wyatt radioed a distress call to Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville while approaching the Daydreamer. As he maneuvered in his boat, Stephen Wyatt directed a second vessel, operated by another family member, to approach the four victims who were within 25 feet of the burning vessel. Braving the intense heat, the Wyatts were both able to bring the four victims in the water aboard the rescue vessels. As the victims were pulled from the water, a propane tank on the burning vessels exploded. While the Daydreamer was a total loss, the family aboard the cruiser escaped serious injury due to the heroic efforts of both Stephen and Gloria Wyatts. 

Bravo Zulu to Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Young, Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Newberg, and Auxiliarists Stephen and Gloria Wyatts! Thank you for your bravery! To read more about the winners, and the other outstanding nominees, please refer to the 2019 Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) Award Recipients ALCOAST 182/21.

The Order of Daedalians USCG Exceptional Aviator Award Recipient: Bravo Zulu to Lt. Cmdr. William Sirokman of Air Station Sitka, who was recently named the winner of the 2020 Order of Daedalians USCG Exceptional Aviator Award. A master aviator and a leader in the aircraft, Sirokman served as an Alaska aircraft commander and flight examiner, amassing 265 flight hours in an area of responsibility roughly the size of Florida, characterized by harsh Arctic maritime environment and mountainous terrain. His efforts resulted in the completion of 22 pilot upgrade events and 22 search and rescue (SAR) cases that saved or assisted 17 lives. As assistant operations officer of Air Station Sitka, Sirokman saved or assisted 29 lives, handling 36 SAR cases. Sirokman displayed exceptional courage during an SAR case on August 22, 2020, in which he lead his crew on a 150-mile transit through treacherous southeast Alaskan mountain passes and narrow waterways to rescue a woman stranded on the Tiaya River near Skagway, Alaska after her canoe capsized in the frigid 44 degree water. Sirokman’s leadership was key to saving the woman, who clung to a log 75 yards from the shore for five hours prior to being rescued. Sirokman’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was vital to ensuring mission success, serving as director of decontamination to the air station. Congratulations Lt. Cmdr. William Sirokman! To read more about Sirokman, please see the Order of Daedalians USCG Exceptional Aviator Award Recipient ALCOAST 175/21.

The 2020 Rear Adm. Sidney A. Wallace Award for Excellence in Marine Environmental Response and Preparedness Recipients: The Wallace Award recognizes units and individual members of the Coast Guard who exemplify the highest standards for professionalism and initiative embodied by Rear Adm. Wallace throughout his career. Congratulations to Sector New Orleans for being named the 2020 Wallace Award unit recipient. Sector New Orleans displayed excellence in marine environmental response and preparedness in 2020, leading 11 federally managed oil spill projects totaling over $39 million. Sector New Orleans and its sub-units responded to over 1,200 reports of pollution, leading to 515 enforcement activities, in addition to responding to six named storms during the 2020 Gulf hurricane season. 

Congratulations also to Chief Petty Officer Christopher Lynch, a marine science technician stationed at Sector Mobile on being named the 2020 Wallace Award individual recipient. Lynch’s efforts to improve coordination and cooperation among Marine Environmental Program (MER) partner agencies were highlighted during the responses to Hurricanes Sally and Zeta. Lynch coordinated with multiple federal, state, and local partners to assess 90 key locations in advance of each Category II storm, as well as five other storm events. Directing 20 MET teams, Lynch was instrumental in identifying and responding to 1,202 vessel targets, ultimately resulting in the removal of 7,000 gallons of oil-water mixture and 12 tons of oiled solids. 

Bravo Zulu Sector New Orleans and Chief Petty Officer Christopher Lynch on your hard work protecting not only our waters, but the marine environments within them. To read more about their efforts to further the MER, please see the 2020 Marine Environmental Response and Preparedness Award Recipients ALCOAST 178/21.

The 2021 Federal Asian Pacific American Council Uniformed Services Award Winners: Congratulations Cmdr. Hoon Park of the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) and Chief Petty Officer Richard Hofschneider of Sector Guam for being named the 2021 Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) Uniformed Services Award winners. 

Park serves as the Associate Director of Student Engagement and Diversity Outreach for CGA’s Admissions Office. Additionally, Park acts as the advisor for the cadet’s Asian Pacific American Council, mentoring cadets and ensuring clear communication between cadets and CGA leadership. Notably, Park organized a luau in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which has turned into an annual CGA-wide event. He also volunteered as a coordinator for the Academy Minority Outreach Team, which connects applicants with active-duty members. His work on the team has resulted in significant increases in applications, historically high retention rates, and classes graduating the largest number of ensigns from the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 

Hofschneider serves as the sole member of the Sector Guam Ready for Operations Team. He also volunteers as a collateral duty recruiter for Guam, championing recruiting in several other countries across the region. His efforts, which include building strong relationships with high schools, local governments, and the Department of Defense, as well as organizing a team of other Coast Guard members to assist with recruiting, has resulted in increased applications for the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative—otherwise known as CSPI. Hofschneider himself actively recruited 90 people to apply for the Coast Guard. His efforts in reaching members of the AAPI community have resulted in the re-establishment of a recruiting office for the Western Pacific area in 2022. 

Bravo Zulu Cmdr. Hoon park and Chief Petty Officer Richard Hofschneider on your hard work and dedication to the AAPI community! To read more about their efforts, please see the 2021 Federal Asian Pacific American Council Uniformed Service Award Winners ALCOAST 180/21.