First female Coast Guard rescue swimmer retires

SEATTLE — The first female Coast Guard rescue swimmer retired after more than 25 years of distinguished Coast Guard service Monday.

Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Larson (formerly Mogk), the 13th District Command Center Chief, joined the Coast Guard in 1984 and became the first female to complete Navy Rescue Swimmer School on May 23, 1986.

One of Larson’s most memorable rescues occurred January of 1989 earning her an Air Medal and an in-person congratulations by then President George H.W. Bush. Larson played a key role during the rescue of a downed Air National Guard F-4 pilot who had ejected over the Pacific Ocean. Her actions included exposing herself to the hypothermic elements to free the downed pilot from his parachute and remaining in the water for a back-up rescue helicopter for transport. This allowed the rescue helicopter to immediately transport the pilot for medical care.

Larson attended Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Va., in 1993, graduating to be commissioned as an ensign in the Coast Guard.

Ten years after becoming the first female Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Larson attended the Navy’s Flight Training Command in Pensacola, Fla., earning her second set of aviation wings and became a Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot.

Larson’s list of awards include but are not limited to a Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal, two Coast Guard Commendation Medals, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals, Commandant’s Letter of Commendation, five Presidential Unit Citations, four Meritorious Unit Citations, the Coast Guard “E” Ribbon, three Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal and two Special Operations Service Awards.

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