Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco welcomes new commanding officer

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard NewsSAN FRANCISCO – Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco crewmembers welcomed a distinguished pilot as their new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony held at the air station today.

Cmdr. William E. Sasser Jr., a Mount Olive, N.C. native, assumed command of the air station from Capt. Erik Langenbacher.

Langebacher will report to his new role as the Pacific Area Resource and Performance Management Chief in Alameda, Calif., after serving as the Air Station San Francisco commander for more than two years.

Sasser began his career as a Coast Guard aviator in 1994 and has been distinguished with two prestigious aviation awards. In 2002, while on an exchange program with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force he became one only of two Coast Guard officers to receive the Royal Air Force Cross, awarded by Queen Elizabeth during an investiture at Buckingham Palace. This was in recognition for his duties as aircraft commander during a night rescue of five mariners from a coastal freighter on fire with volatile cargo. He was also honored as the recipient of the 2003 Vodafone/Daily Express Life Savers Award and the 2004 Pride of Britain Award for the category of “Beyond the Call of Duty.”

Additionally, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for rescuing 160 people from the floodwaters of Miss. and Ala. coasts following Hurricane Katrina. His other medals include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and the Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon.

“For Commander Bill Sasser, today is the beginning of what will undoubtedly be the most challenging, and I hope rewarding tour of duty in his career to date, commanding officer of this fine unit,” said presiding officer Capt. John Prince, the 11th Coast Guard District’s chief of staff.

Sasser takes command of Air Station San Francisco’s four MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and 125 personnel assigned to the unit, conducting search and rescue, law enforcement, homeland security, and maritime environmental protection missions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Air Station personnel also periodically stand up aviation detachments aboard Coast Guard cutters that deploy worldwide.

He reports to San Francisco from his previous assignment as executive officer of Air Station Los Angeles.

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