Coast Guard awards Coxswain of the Year

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Coast Guardsman was honored as the Coast Guard coxswain of the year Thursday in Corpus Christi, for his efforts during a law enforcement case in which he intercepted a Mexican boat, after its crew was suspected of fatally wounding a Coast Guardsman while attempting to smuggle narcotics, Dec. 2, 2012.

Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Connick was recognized for sustained superior performance, skill and leadership during the interdiction. Capt. Samuel R. Creech, Jr., the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, awarded the coxswain of the year the Cmdr. Ray Evans outstanding coxswain trophy.

“He inspires me and the entire Coast Guard who protect our U.S. waterways,” said Creech. During the ceremony, Creech referenced Connick’s “warrior spirit.”

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Connick receives the coxswain of the year award March 13, 2014, at Sector Corpus Christi. Connick was recognized for sustained superior performance, skill and leadership during an interdiction of a fleeing vessel, which was suspected of fatally wounding fellow Coast Guardsman, Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Connick receives the coxswain of the year award March 13, 2014, at Sector Corpus Christi. Connick was recognized for sustained superior performance, skill and leadership during an interdiction of a fleeing vessel, which was suspected of fatally wounding fellow Coast Guardsman, Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III.

“My crew and I were just doing what we were trained to do,” said Connick.

When approached, the Mexican boat fled and rammed the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut’s 16-foot response boat, killing one of its crewmembers, Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III.

Coast Guard assets immediately responded, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to intercept the suspected vessel.

At 3 a.m., Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach launched a boatcrew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat — Medium, with Connick as the coxswain. Connick and his crew relentlessly pursued the boat in heavy seas and complete darkness, maximizing crew endurance and vessel limitations, to intercept the Mexican boat before it reached Mexican territorial waters. Connick and his crew were more than 90 miles offshore when they intercepted the boat.

Jose Meija-Leyva of Ensenada, Mexico, who was operating the boat intercepted by Connick, was convicted of murdering Horne and is facing up to life in prison. Also in the Mexican boat was Manuel Beltran-Higuera, who was convicted of assault and failure to yield, and is facing up to 60 years in prison.

The Cmdr. Ray Evans outstanding coxswain trophy is a Coast Guard wide competition awarded annually and recognizes a coxswain who demonstrates sustained superior performance, exceptional boat handling skills, and exemplary leadership.

Connick received this award while serving on active duty at Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach. He is currently attached to Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi and drills at Coast Guard Station Port O’Connor, as a reservist. He works full time with United Services Automobile Association.

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