Written by Ademide Adedokun.
Last week, the Coast Guard Foundation presented the Guardian of the Heartland award to the flight crews who took part in the search and rescue mission following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig one year ago today.
The award presentation was part of the Foundation’s annual “Tribute to the 8th Coast Guard District” dinner in New Orleans. The district spans 26 states, more than 1,200 miles of coastline and more than 10 thousand miles of inland waterways from Florida to Mexico, including the entire navigable lengths of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee river systems.
The rescue of 115 members of the Deepwater Horizon crew was a joint effort by the crew of the Damon B. Bankston, an offshore supply vessel, and six Coast Guard aircrews who evacuated the survivors.
A highlight of the dinner was a video presentation of the awardees describing the harrowing conditions the evening of April 20, 2010, as Coast Guard aircrew members established a triage site on the deck of the Damon B. Bankston and transported survivors to healthcare facilities. Working as a team with ground support, the crews coordinated air traffic control radio communications and flight altitudes to ensure the safety of all aboard the helicopters.
The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the welfare of Coast Guard men and women and their families. Its varied programs range from educational scholarship opportunities for Coast Guard family members to the current recapitalization of the Coast Guard Academy’s donated sailing vessel training fleet.
Last week’s dinner in New Orleans raised more than $200,000 to support Foundation programs.