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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 18, 2021

BZ: Putting training to the test, 2021 recipients of the Captain Frank A. Erickson and Commander Elmer F. Stone Aviation Awards, Coast Guard honors fallen, Apply for grants

By Nicole Bertrand, MyCG Staff

Bravo Zulu to A-school students at TRACEN Yorktown! Boatswain’s mate A-school students and instructors at Training Center (TRACEN) Yorktown diverted from their studies Oct. 20 to respond to two search and rescue cases. While conducting two-boat towing operations, on the York River, students and crew of a 38-foot training boat observed a pontoon boat drifting dangerously close the Coleman Bridge. Reacting quickly, the Coast Guard crew made contact with the three mariners aboard. After confirming the vessel was disabled, the rescue crew brought the pontoon boat into a tow, and safely moored the pontoon boat to the closest safe haven. Later that day, another 38-foot training boat overheard a disoriented mariner on the VHF radio and determined the vessel to be near their position. After locating the vessel, the Coast Guard crew assisted the mariner by verifying their position in relation to the intended destination. Another productive underway day with BM A-school!

Bravo Zulu to the 2021 recipients of the Captain Frank A. Erickson and Commander Elmer F. Stone Aviation Awards. 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 (SAR) operations. The Captain Frank A. Erickson Award recipient is the HITRON crew of CGNR 6606, Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Keyser, Lt. Rachel Rychtanek, and Petty Officer 1st Class James Mann, aviation electronics technician, in recognition of their heroic efforts during deployment aboard Coast Guard Cutter Seneca. On Nov. 8, 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 Seneca, the crew of CGNR 6606 reacted quickly and effectively assisting the Honduran people from Nov. 11-13, 2020. Seneca was diverted to the eastern coast of Honduras for hurricane aid and SAR support following the impact of Hurricane Eta. 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. The crew of CGNR 6606's bravery, aeronautical skill, and ingenuity 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. 

The recipients of the Commander Elmer F. Stone Award are Air Station Barbers Point crew of CGNR 1720 Lt. Cmdr. Tucker Rodeffer, Lt. Jack Emmons, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Desmarais, aviation maintenance technician, Petty Officer 3rd Class Anders Forsberg, aviation electronics technician, Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Camarda, aviation maintenance technician, Petty Officer 2nd Class Trenton Garza, aviation electronics technician, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Clinton Carpenter, aviation electronics technician, in recognition of their heroic efforts Dec. 22, 2020. District 14 received a request from the island nation of Kiribati for assistance with SAR. 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. 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 the endangered life of a fisherman from Betio Temakin, Tarawa, saved. Read more details about the phenomenal search and rescues in 2021 Captain Frank Erickson and Commander Elmer Stone Award Recipients ALCOAST 414/21.

Coast Guard honors those who gave their lives in service. The 22nd annual Coast Guard Flags Across America took place on Nov. 6 at Arlington National Cemetery. There, more than 170 service members, family, and friends volunteered to place hundreds of flags on Coast Guard veterans’ graves. Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, spoke. There was a brief history and heritage ceremony, then a posting of the flags. The event is held on a Saturday morning just prior to Veterans Day every year and takes place on Coast Guard Hill at the U.S. Coast Guard Memorial. Flags Across America is organized by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association. 

Apply for a Coast Guard Foundation Education Grant (CGFEG) or Vice Admiral William Freeland Rea, III Grant (WFEG). The Coast Guard Foundation Education Grant program is intended to assist eligible personnel in their academic or technical development by providing a grant for tuition, fees, and miscellaneous expenses incurred while pursuing off-duty voluntary education and credentialing. The maximum payable reimbursement is $500 per person for 2021. The Vice Admiral William Freeland Rea Grant (WFEG) program is intended to supplement qualifying expenditures for Coast Guard members following a career pattern related to marine safety, security, environmental protection, and vessel traffic systems. The program has a maximum payable reimbursement of $250 per person for 2021. WFEG applicants may also apply for the CGFEG. Some CGFEG eligible expenses include costs associated with undergraduate level courses, such as tuition and books, certification and license exam fees, computers, supplies, transportation, and tools or protective equipment. Some WFEG eligible expenses include Military-to-Mariner preparatory courses and direct educational expenses. Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis until funds are expended. Members should work with their education services officer (ESO) to verify eligibility. You can submit a grant application here. For more detailed information, read CY21 Coast Guard Foundation Education Grant (CGFEG) Program ALCOAST 418/21.