Kodiak-based Coast Guardsmen honor fallen members

KODIAK, Alaska - Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeff Moeschler, an avionics electrical technician with Air Station Kodiak, uses a saws-all to cut a 4-by-4 length of wood to reinforce a trailhead for a memorial at Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011. The memorial is in honor of three fallen Coast Guardsmen that were killed in a plane crash on the side of Pyramid Mountain June 30, 1995. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeff Moeschler, an avionics electrical technician with Air Station Kodiak, uses a saws-all to cut a 4-by-4 length of wood to reinforce a trailhead for a memorial at Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011.

Story and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

On June 30, 2011, members of Air Station Kodiak’s  Alaska Patrol HH-65 Dolphin helicopter shop, or ALPAT as it is commonly referred to, worked on cleaning up a trail to a memorial on the side of Pyramid Mountain for fellow Coast Guard aviators who were killed in a civilian plane crash in 1995.

The ALPAT shop cleaned up the trail and memorial site by cutting a clear path and reinforcing the trail surface with geoblock and gravel to make it easier to transit to the memorial site. The trail reinforcement limits erosion and degradation of the trail. The ALPAT shop members also scrubbed the rust from the four crosses at the site and repainted them.

KODIAK, Alaska - Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak members with the Alaska Patrol HH-65 Dolphin helicopter shop honor fallen Coast Guardsmen by cleaning a memorial site at Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011. The memorial site is in honor of the crew that died in a plane crash June 30, 1995. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

KODIAK, Alaska - Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak members with the Alaska Patrol HH-65 Dolphin helicopter shop honor fallen Coast Guardsmen by cleaning a memorial site at Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011.

On the evening of June 30, 1995, sometime before 8 p.m. an Island Air Piper Saratoga airplane crashed into the side of Pyramid Mountain carrying three Kodiak-based air station Coast Guardsmen. Killed were Chief Petty Officer Douglas Cooper, 38, Petty Officer 1st Class Danny Jackson, 35, Petty Officer 2nd Class Rodney Parsons, 31, and their pilot Christopher Canfield, 33. They were returning to Kodiak City from the village of Karluk where they had been fishing and rafting nearby.

 The weather conditions at the time of the crash were reported as overcast skies with a 700-foot ceiling and visibility of seven miles.

The ALPAT shop cleaned up the trail to honor the men and show their respects to their fellow aviatiors. When an aircraft crew is lost whether it be an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew or a helicopter crew the loss of those crews are felt throughout the whole Coast Guard aviation community. The enlisted workforce is about 2,000 personnel with about 800 pilots.

KODIAK, Alaska - Petty Officer 3rd Class Wes Shinn, an aviation maintenance technician with Air Station Kodiak, scrubs rust off four crosses at a memorial site on Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011. Shinn is a member of the Alaska Patrol HH-65 Dolphin helicopter shop and helped other members of the shop to clean a memorial site that honors fellow Coast Guardsmen and the pilot of the plane killed in a crash on the mountain June 30, 1995. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

KODIAK, Alaska - Petty Officer 3rd Class Wes Shinn, an aviation maintenance technician with Air Station Kodiak, scrubs rust off four crosses at a memorial site on Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island June 30, 2011.

This is one of several memorials in Alaska to Coast Guard aircrews. Over the decades the Kodiak air station has suffered losses around the state including the Kodiak vicinity and as far out as Attu Island. One year ago Air Station Sitka lost three crew when their aircraft crashed off the Washington coast while ferrying a new MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Port Angeles, Wa., to Sitka. These memorials are a powerful reminder of how dangerous the Coast Guard’s job can be whether it is daily operations or a search and rescue mission.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those we’ve lost and we endeavour every day to honor their sacrifice with our efforts and commitment.

Semper Paratus!

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