Air Station Elizabeth City is one of the busiest air stations in the Coast Guard. In missions ranging from maritime law enforcement to search and rescue, Elizabeth City’s aircrews are constantly putting their training and knowledge to the test.
The crews train hard to prepare themselves for any mission and since 1995 the air station has averaged more than 360 search and rescue missions a year. Not to mention the 20,000 missions – day or night, fair weather or foul – the air station has flown in the last 60 years.
20,000 missions is a lot of hours in the sky. And those hours require a lot of maintenance. To ensure each helicopter is ready to take flight, there are few people more valuable to have around Elizabeth City than Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Parker.
“He has a strong desire to get the job done, and is always the first one to “roll up his sleeves” when things get busy,” said Chief Petty Officer Robert Cain.
Parker is the air station’s primary quality assurance inspector for its fleet of helicopters, meaning he provides final inspections on all aircraft maintenance performed prior to the helicopter getting airborne.
If the position sounds important, that’s because it is. Only the air station’s most technically competent and adept technicians hold this position. Parker knows his aircraft systems, in and out.
“AMT1 Ryan Parker’s attitude and performance are second to none,” said Cain. “He is one of our most knowledgeable and proficient technicians and air crewman at Air Station Elizabeth City.”
Parker’s role is not only to supervise, but also to mentor. He provides ground and in-flight syllabus training to qualify all helicopter aircrews, including basic air crewmen and flight mechanics.
“He devotes many hours sharing his knowledge and experience with subordinates,” said Cain. “He has very strong initiative and takes on many projects to improve the quality of the hangar deck environment, maintenance practices and moral.”
Parker is also the duty section watch captain. He drafts and maintains watch schedules, actively manages personnel and coordinates and directs helicopter maintenance. This position demands sound judgment and critical decision making as Parker will often be called on to make recommendations to the command and is in constant communication with the command to provide recommendations outside of normal working hours.
A lot of Parker’s work at the air station is done in the hangar bay. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to jump in the helicopter when the search and rescue alarm goes off. As a qualified flight mechanic, Parker operates the hoist during search and rescue missions. In one of his most recent cases, he rescued sailors aboard the HMS Bounty 90 miles off the coast of Hatteras, N.C.
Saving lives while simultaneously keeping Elizabeth City’s helicopters ready to execute a variety of demanding and dangerous missions; it’s all in a days work for Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Parker.