Coast Guard aircrews recognized by helicopter community

WASHINGTON — Coast Guard helicopter crewmembers will take four of nine total Helicopter Association International awards, including Pilot of the Year, during the HAI Salute to Excellence banquet scheduled for Monday in Orlando, Fla.

The Salute to Excellence awards program, now in its 50th year, recognizes outstanding achievement performed by individuals or companies in the international helicopter community.

Lt. Audie Andry, a Paoli, Ind., resident, won Pilot of the Year for his actions while landing his MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter safely aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Healy near Kodiak, Alaska, after the helicopter suffered a transmission failure 100 feet from the ship on the evening of Sept. 30, 2010. This award honors “an outstanding single feat performed by a helicopter pilot during the year or extraordinary professionalism over a period of time.”

“We were at a hover waiting for the green light to land on the cutter and we heard a loud howl in the aircraft,” said Andry. “It sounded like wind coming through a vent, but it was louder than it should have been.”

Thirteen other Coast Guardsmen are recognized, as follows:

Lt. Cmdr. Thomas G. Hickey, Lt. Cmdr. Craig Murray, Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Lloyd, and Chief Petty Officer Kurt Peterson, won the Sikorsky Humanitarian Service Award, for their actions as the first Air Station New Orleans’ MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to respond to the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion April 20, 2010. This award honors those who “best demonstrate the value of helicopters to society by saving lives, protecting property and aiding those in distress.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas H. Baisden, an aviation maintenance technician at Air Station New Orleans won the Rolls-Royce Excellence in Helicopter Maintenance Award for his leadership, guiding 72 mechanics assigned temporarily to Air Station New Orleans to support the Coast Guard’s response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This award recognizes an individual who “has distinguished himself or herself by longstanding excellence in the performance of helicopter maintenance or a single, significant and distinct contribution to helicopter maintenance.”

Lt. Cmdr. Robert G. Workman, Capt. Joseph T. Baker, Lt. j.g. Matthew J. Van Ginkel, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly N. Dechmerowski, Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas J. Masell, Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph D. Paulson, Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian M. Dugal and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob S. Dickson won the MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award for their efforts while deployed to the Caribbean on the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman. The honorees were involved in the interdiction of six, drug-smuggling vessels and accomplished “the unprecedented feat of stopping four vessels in one mission,” according to their nomination package. All are members of the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, based in Jacksonville, Fla. This award recognizes those who “have contributed to the promotion and advancement of helicopters in support of law enforcement activities.”

For information about the 2011 Salute to Excellence awards banquet and ceremony, visit www.rotor.com.

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