Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak to hold change of command

Coast Guard Alaska NewsKODIAK, Alaska — Capt. Melissa Rivera will relieve Capt. Bill Deal as commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak during a change of command ceremony Friday at 10 a.m. at the unit in Hangar 3.

Deal has commanded the air station for three years and will be retiring from active duty after 28 years of service. He and his family plan to remain in Kodiak. This will be Rivera’s third tour in Alaska, second in Kodiak.

Rivera is arriving from Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico, where she served as executive officer of the unit and flew MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. She started her Coast Guard career as a 1991 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. Her first assignment was as a deck watch officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous homeported in Long Beach, Calif. From there she attended naval flight training in Pensacola, Fla. Her first aviation assignment was as an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot in Elizabeth City, N.C. She has also served tours as a Jayhawk helicopter pilot in Kodiak and Sitka. In 2003, Rivera served a staff tour at Coast Guard Headquarters as the first aviation special missions manager during which she developed a comprehensive aviation counter terrorism policy in addition to other duties.

Rivera holds a Bachelor of Science degree in government from the Coast Guard Academy. She has also earned a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College and she has a certificate in homeland security studies from the National Graduate School.

Her military awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals and an Army Achievement Medal. Rivera has also received several aviation awards to include the Association of Naval Aviation and the Naval Helicopter Association’s Aircrew of the Year awards and the Order of Dandelions Exceptional Pilot of the Year award for her efforts in rescues that directly saved the lives of 66 people.

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