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Coast Guard Foundation to honor helicopter crew

Sep 10, 2019 11:57 AM

Their heroism will be recognized at the Pacific Northwest Awards in Seattle

The following is text of a news release from the Coast Guard Foundation:

(STONINGTON, Conn.) — The Coast Guard Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the education and well-being of all Coast Guard members and their families, has announced that its Pacific Northwest Awards in Seattle will take place on Thursday Sept. 19 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Wash. At the event, the foundation will recognize helicopter air crew CGNR 6596 and Coast Guard Foundation life trustee and long-time supporter Bart Eaton. Keynote speakers will include Adm. Karl Shultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Additional remarks will be made by Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant; Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, Pacific Area commander; and Rear Adm. David Throop, District 13 commander.

At this year’s event, the Coast Guard Foundation will recognize the heroism and professionalism of helicopter crew of CGNR 6596 for events that occurred in the evening hours of July 4, 2018. The crew of CGNR 6596 – Lt. Jacob Marks, Lt. Caleb Wadsworth, AMT3 Ryan Taylor and AST3 Richard Nestler – were dispatched after local emergency medical services reported a 62-year-old hiker had fallen down a 100-foot cliff. Paramedics performed over 20 minutes of CPR before the helicopter arrived. Under total darkness, aided by night vision goggles, the crew brought their helicopter to a hover over the survivor’s position which was surrounded by 200-foot trees that limited the hoisting area. Rescue swimmer AST3 Richard Nestler was lowered to the scene.

The extent of the patient’s injuries had left her unable to breathe on her own and continuous manual breathing was required. Nestler recommended a litter augmented double pick-up. This rarely used and never trained maneuver near the maximum capabilities of the aircraft would allow Nestler and the survivor strapped to a rescue litter to be hoisted simultaneously. To make this maneuver possible, the crew jettisoned fuel and all unnecessary equipment to improve the helicopter’s flight characteristics. During the hoist, Nestler held an oxygen tank in one hand while manually breathing for the patient with the other. The crew of CGNR 6596 exemplified the highest traditions of the Coast Guard through their heroic efforts involving precise aircraft movements, selfless bravery and seamless coordination with local EMS, and ultimately saved the life of the hiker. 

“The brave men and women of the Coast Guard are trained for completing sometimes seemingly impossible missions,” said Susan Ludwig, president, Coast Guard Foundation. “These individuals exemplify a selfless professionalism that allows them to not only perform in the harshest of conditions, but sometimes to go beyond their training and improvise for the safety of those they are sworn to protect. By honoring the crew of CGNR 6596 we are trying to honor every member of the branch.”

In the last two years, The Coast Guard Foundation has supported more than 22 morale, wellness and community projects in the Pacific Northwest, including a playground for Coast Guard families stationed in remote Neah Bay, Wash., and fitness and recreation gear for the nation’s last remaining polar icebreaker, Polar Star. During the unprecedented government shutdown in late 2018 through early 2019, the Coast Guard Foundation provided $20,000 in morale support to Coast Guard members stationed in Washington and Oregon. In addition, in the last two years, the organization’s scholarship program has awarded scholarships to 27 students from the Pacific Northwest.

ThePacific Northwest Awards will be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, Wash. A cocktail reception will begin at 5 p.m. with dinner and program following at 6:30 p.m.

To learn more about the Coast Guard Foundation or to help support its work, visit www.coastguardfoundation.org.

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