Protecting our skies: Coast Guard unit recognized with prestigious award

The Coast Guard’s National Capitol Region Air Defense Facility, which is supported with both permanent crews and temporarily assigned aircrews from nearby Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the nations only helicopter alert facility in the country.

One comment
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., flies over Washington on a training flight Thursday, April 16, 2015. Aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City train to stay proficient for the Rotary Wing Air Intercept mission over the nation’s capital and other critical areas throughout the country. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., flies over Washington on a training flight Thursday, April 16, 2015. Aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City train to stay proficient for the Rotary Wing Air Intercept mission over the nation’s capital and other critical areas throughout the country. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef.

 

While many know the Coast Guard protects the waterways surrounding Washington, D.C., many may not know that a group of highly trained and skilled aircrews are responsible for protecting our nation’s capital as well – from the air.

The Coast Guard’s National Capitol Region Air Defense Facility, which is supported with both permanent crews and temporarily assigned aircrews from nearby Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the nation’s only helicopter alert facility in the country.

The primary mission for these crews? To protect the national capital region by intercepting low and slow flying aircraft which encroach on Washington’s special flight rules area, which extends in a 30-mile ring surrounding the city. Once intercepted, the Coast Guard aircrews escort them out of this area, and relay any critical, pertinent information to their controlling agency.

U.S. Coast Guard National Capital Region Air Defense Facility receives the 2014 Continental North American Region Aerospace Control Alert Unit of the Year award. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Marin.
U.S. Coast Guard National Capital Region Air Defense Facility receives the 2014 Continental North American Region Aerospace Control Alert Unit of the Year award. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Marin.

Like all Coast Guard units, these men and women stand the watch each and every day to protect our nation. Unlike other units, however, the Air Defense Facility operates under the operational control of the Department of Defense’s North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

Recently, the Continental United States NORAD Region recognized the air defense facility as the Aerospace Control Alert Unit of the Year for 2014.

Canadian Forces Brig. Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region, presented the award to the air defense facility’s Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Zac Mathews, as well as the crew.

“It is my pride to present the CONR ACA Unit of the Year [award] for what you’ve done and what you’ve demonstrated in terms of dedication,” said Pelletier.

The Coast Guard’s National Capitol Region Air Defense Facility competed against 16 other U.S. Air Force aerospace control alert facilities from across the nation. This marks the first time the Coast Guard unit has been recognized with the award. And rightfully so – the unit possesses a 100 percent mission completion rate and is the only facility to do so.

“This is a tremendous honor that Continental North American Region has recognized the Coast Guard as the top ACA unit of the year,” said Mathews. “The men and women who perform this mission 24/7 are very proud of what they do. We can boast a 100 percent success rate and the fact that our Department of Defense leadership recognizes the efforts the men and women here perform every day is a tremendous honor.”

1 comments on “Protecting our skies: Coast Guard unit recognized with prestigious award”

Leave a Reply