Kodiak-based Coast Guard aviator receives GEICO Military Service Award

Petty Officer Claude Morrissey receives GEICO Military Service Award

CEO of GEICO Tony Nicely, Vice Adm. John Currier, the vice commandant , Petty Officer 1st Class Claude Morrissey, his wife Elizabeth Morrissey and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael Leavitt stand for a photo at the GEICO Military Service Awards dinner in Washington, D.C., April 29, 2013. Morrissey was the Coast Guard’s 2012 award winner for his outstanding service to the military and civilian communities of Kodiak, Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Petty Officer 1st Class Claude Morrissey is the GEICO 2012 Military Service Award winner from the Coast Guard. He was presented his award alongside his family at the 2012 GEICO Military Service Awards ceremony held on April 29 in Washington, D.C.

Morrissey, a native of New Jersey and an aviation survival technician stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, is an outstanding Coast Guard member and friend to those around him. At more than six-feet tall with a stout build he can be an imposing figure until he cracks a joke with a huge smile and laughs in deep voice.

“We are really pleased to see Petty Officer Morrissey recognized for all that he does for the unit, the Coast Guard and the local community,” said Cmdr. Michael Mullen, executive officer, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak.  “The few actions noted in the GEICO award are only a fraction of what he does and how he gets involved.  He is a great asset to our command and will be greatly missed when he transfers this summer.” 

For 25 years Geico has been recognizing one enlisted member from each of the five military services for their outstanding service to their military or civilian community. Awards are presented in three categories: drug and alcohol abuse prevention, fire safety and fire prevention, and traffic safety and accident prevention. Morrissey was selected due to his outstanding performance at the air station and the excellent example he sets for others off duty. A 14-year Coast Guard veteran, Morrissey has served in Alaska for four years as a rescue swimmer aboard the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.

Kodiak’s Jayhawk division is routinely called upon to conduct search and rescue, living marine resource and law enforcement missions in addition to conducting community outreach.  The helicopter crews spend an average of 12 weeks deployed around the state to Cordova, Cold Bay, St. Paul and the Arctic in support of increased operations and regional needs from the maritime community.

The rescue swimmer shop in Kodiak is responsible for much more than jumping out of helicopters. The 24 ASTs maintain all of the survival equipment used on the unit’s three different airframes, a total of 13 aircraft, ranging from rafts and oxygen supplies to dewatering pumps for delivery to stricken vessels. The rescue swimmer’s also conduct aviation survival training annually for all of the air station’s aircrews.

“We are known for jumping out of helicopters but that is only 10 percent of what we do,” said Morrissey. “Rescue swimmers are primarily responsible for the safety and survival equipment on our aircraft and we are all trained in varying degrees of emergency medicine.”


PO Morrissey escorts patient from BK Champ

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Claude Morrissey, an aviation survival technician with Air Station Kodiak, walks a crewman from the 580-foot bulk carrier BK Champ Sept. 21, 2010, from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter along with a LifeMed Air Alaska representative in Adak, Alaska. The crewman injured his hand while in the engine room of the BK Champ and LifeMed Alaska Air personnel transported him to Anchorage for further treatment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matt Morris.

Morrissey has handled cases in Alaska ranging from the long-range medevac of an injured crewman from the 580-foot bulk carrier BK Champ transiting the North Pacific in September 2010 to the rescue of five fishermen from the grounded fishing vessel Midnite Sun on a frigid February night in 2011. In 2012 he flew 150 flight hours and was directly responsible for saving six lives including the challenging rescue of an injured goat hunter from a 2,000-foot cliff on Kodiak Island.

He also mentors and trains the other swimmers in the shop and has set an example by serving as one of the unit’s collateral duty alcohol representatives to assist his shipmates as they navigate drug and alcohol related issues. He served as a designated driver; personally ensuring 45 colleagues arrived home safely following events and evenings out.  Additionally, he serves as a ground support vehicle safety instructor and instructs colleagues in the safe operation of forklifts and flight line support vehicles that service the unit’s aircraft and lead to an accident free year of ground operations. 

“I really enjoy helping other Coast Guard members through a tough situation and seeing each member gain a better understanding of their relationship with alcohol,” said Morrissey.

In his off duty time Morrissey has served as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic with the Womens Bay Fire Department in Kodiak, training more than 130 hours and responding to three emergencies. Having experience with chainsaws from running a tree trimming service, he provided chainsaw safety classes to shipmates.

“I really enjoy helping out in the community,” said Morrissey. “It makes my family and I more connected to the people and community around us.”

Morrissey will rotate this summer to a new posting in Elizabeth City, N.C., and will continue serving on Jayhawk helicopters.

For more information about the GEICO Military Service Award and winners click here.

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