>Adm. Brooks address Coast Guard, guests and the public at Air Station Kodiak Change of Command

>Welcome and thank you all for being here today. It gives me great pleasure to share in this time-honored tradition where responsibility of command will be formally passed from Capt. Berghorn to Capt. Deal. I particularly want to recognize the family members here today, or those absent but present in our hearts. Without your commitment, sacrifice and continued support, or Coast Guard men and women would not be able to do all the things they need to do for Alaska and America.

In the recent re-release of Coast Guard publication one Adm. Allen reminds us that every man or woman in our service, whether regular, reserve, civilian or auxiliarist, is a guardian. To guard is to watch over to to protect from harm. Our Guardian Ethos is the contract the Coast Guard and its members make with the nation — to be “Always Ready” to protect them, now and into the future.

But there is another level. While we all are guardians, there are also heroes. They are much rarer, but they exist. They are the ones who excel on our worst nights, under the worst conditions. They are the ones who save lives at great risk to themselves, when many could not do it. And when our heroes are heroes long enough, they become legends. And there is no finer place in the Coast Guard for heroes than here at Air Station Kodiak.

Today we are in the hall of heroes. Today we are in the home of legends – in the midst of one of our best Coast Guard cities.

Over the last three years, under Capt. Berghorn’s command Air Station Kodiak has operated:

– 26,000 hours and 1,800 deployed days in support of D17 missions.
– Prosecuted 464 SAR cases resulting in 320 lives saved or assisted.
– Deployed to Forward Operating Bases for over 1,610 days and deployed to Coast Guard cutters for over 897 days.
– Transported 28+ million pounds of mission essential cargo.

Large numbers like these are impressive, but it is easy to miss their significance. Let me take it to the personal level. Bear with me as I review just a few of the SAR cases over the past three years. Each was extraordinary — each was a unique, compelling story, where lives were saved — and perhaps, lives were lost. Frankly, these names should be enshrined around these walls:

– M/V Cougar Ace (car carrier overturned 240nm south of Adak, 23 saved)
– M/V Stellar Sea (afire, 142 assisted)
– F/V Jade Alaska (3 saved)
– F/V Hunter (4 saved)
– F/V Risky Business (5 saved)
– F/V Illusion (4 saved)
– F/V Star Trek (aground, 3 saved)
– F/V Memories (3 saved)
– N1543 aircraft crash Hallo Bay (6 saved)
– Charter vessel Delphinus (10 assisted)
– M/V Hyundai Confidence (freighter disabled 800 nm south of Kodiak)
– 20-foot skiff (beset by ice 5 nm north of Nunivak Island, 3 saved)
– Japanese Balloonist unreported, overdue (south of the Aleutians, one of the most difficult offshore winter cases – one life presumed lost)
– F/V Alaska Ranger (42 saved of 47, a case for the ages)
– N72067 crash Yukon Island (4 injured but saved)
– N9897Y crash Becharof Wilderness (2 saved)
– F/V Magnum (capsized, 4 saved)
– F/V Golden Girls (capsized, 4 saved)
– F/V Pacific Lady (sinking, 1 saved by raft dropped from C-130 offshore)
– F/V Lady Blackie (sinking, 4 persons and 1 dog saved)
– Servant Air crash (Kodiak, 4 rescued, 6 lost)
– F/V Velocity (overturned, 1 saved, 1 lost)
– M/V Transition (overdue, 2 presumed lost)
– F/V Pacific Glacier (fire, 106 assisted)
– F/V Katmai (sunk in Amchitka Pass, 4 of 11 saved)
– M/V Bum Chin (750 nm south of Adak, 3 crewmembers medevaced)
– M/V Monarch (OSV) (sinking in Cook Inlet, 7 saved)
Okmok volcano eruption (ranch evacuation by helicopter)
Sharitin Mountain (mid-winter contractor evacuation)
– M/V Global Prosperity (medevac, 2260 nm transited)
– F/V Icy Mist (aground on Akutan Island, 4 saved)
– F/V Mar-Gun (aground on St. George Island, 5 saved)
– Mt. Redoubt volcano (eruption support)
– F/V Larisa M (RHI adrift, Amchitka Pass, 6 saved)

Every one of these is a story worthy of remembering. Every one would make a first rate movie. They are real, they occurred, and over 300 people are alive today because of the work Capt. Berghorn’s heroes, your heroes. And remember, not all heroes, not all who sacrifice at personal risk, are on scene.

More than any other, you helped take the “death” out of the “Deadliest Catch” with the very difficult forward deployments to Cold Bay and St. Paul. Despite very limited infrastructure during the worst weather of the year you continued to save lives.

When the Arctic called it was Air Station Kodiak who answered, with the first historic North Pole circumnavigation in late October, 2007, the beginning of the Arctic Domain Awareness flights, extending the forward deployments to Barrow, Deadhorse, Nome and Kotzebue.

Despite aircraft limitations and very limited maintenance and logistics facilities, Air Station Kodiak extended vital Coast Guard services to an important but difficult part of Alaska and the world.

Air Station Kodiak brought airborne use of force to Alaska to meet our Homeland Security initiatives post 9-11. The program was operational in 90 days, qualifying eight pilots and seven aviation gunners. 11,000 hours of training gave us the capability to conduct the largest military outload in Alaskan history in June 2008.

You continued your unusual Aids-to-Navigation missions, inserting the crew of the Aids-to-Navigation Team Kodiak on mountaintops in our most remote places – and hauling the gear to support the tenders.

But it wasn’t just the Arctic and Alaska. Kodiak crews deployed to South America in support of Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South and the counter-drug mission, facilitating the seizure 21.5 metric tons of illegal drugs.

I present this unit commendation to the command and crew of Air Station Kodiak.

How did this happen? How did you do it? The answer is simple. Leadership. If I’ve learned one organizations, it’s that everything…everything rises and falls on leadership at all levels. More than experience, more than technical competence, more than even adequate funding and resources…the biggest determinant of success or failure of an organization is leadership. More than any other unit, Air Station Kodiak has born the brunt of the changes with in District 17; and it has met each challenge with an unflinching commitment to mission execution. My thanks goes out to you, the crew of Air Station Kodiak, for all you have done. You are true guardians. And it goes out to you Andy, for your leadership.

Before I go any further I would like to formally recognize Capt. Berghorn with this award.

Andy, thank you for your dedication and service. You have made a difference. I wish you and Sharon fair winds and following seas as you move to Pensacola, Fla., to serve as Coast Guard liaison to Naval Flight Training.

Capt. Deal, welcome aboard and welcome back to you and Kitty for your second tour at Air Station Kodiak. You’re what I call a repeat offender. A lot has been done in the past three years, but don’t worry, if I’ve learned anything in Alaska – it’s that she will give you plenty of opportunities and challenges in the years ahead, you’re an Alaskan aviator, and are just the type of seasoned officer we need in command. I know you will serve Air Station Kodiak well.

My charge to you is simple:

– Be committed to your people and they – in turn – will be committed to you and our service.
– Mentor, coach and empower your junior and mid-level leaders so they can grow and develop. Remember, people don’t join the Coast Guard because they want an easy life, but because they want to make a difference. Give them that opportunity.
– Commit yourself to the stewardship of all resources that are under you responsibility – our sense of integrity and duty demand it.
– Demand operational excellence and strict adherence to our core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. The public deserves nothing less.

Finally, to the dedicated men and women of Air Station Kodiak, thank you for protecting our breathtaking maritime environment in Southcentral and Western Alaska, for securing economically vital and critical infrastructure, and ensuring the safety of those who use these waters for both business and pleasure. Remember our Guardian Ethos and our obligation as guardians.

In the annual report on the U.S. Life Saving Service in 1885, the Congress explained our ethos in simple terms: These people took their lives in their hands and at the most imminent risk, crossed the tumultuous sea, and all for what? Only so that others might live to see home and friends.

That’s why we are here. This is what we do. Thank you all for your service. Semper Paratus, God bless America, and God bless Kodiak!

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