One Veterans Story – Shane Moore’s monumental moment

by Petty Officer Renee C. Aiello

Hurricane Ike was a natural disaster that will long be etched in the minds of Texans for years to come. Thousands of Galveston-area residents suffered devastating loss. For Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Moore, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, the events of Hurricane Ike will be etched for a lifetime in his memory, but for a different reason. Moore, a 23-year-old Cabot, Ark., native, earned the first rescue of his rescue swimmer career during the course of Hurricane Ike.

Moore joined the Coast Guard at 20. He was two years out of high school lacking direction.

“I was out of high school and working odd jobs. My sister was in the Coast Guard, so I said ‘why not,'” said Moore

It was never in his game plan to become an Aviation Survival Technician. His first career choice was as a flight mechanic. When he first joined the Coast Guard he admits to unhealthy habits that would prevent him from successfully completing the AST rate’s strenuous training.

All that changed while he was stationed in Key West. Moore said he made a conscious decision to begin a daily running program, clean up his eating habits and start swimming to prepare for AST A-school.

Once he graduated A-School and received orders for Air Station Houston, never in his wildest dreams, would Moore predict his first rescue would come during the devastation of Hurricane Ike, he said.

“When Hurricane Gustav came through I thought we would help some people, but after I thought we would be OK. I never though anything like Ike would happen,” said Moore.

HOUSTON - In this photo by the U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Moore, an Air Station Houston rescue swimmer dons his rescue gear.

HOUSTON - Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Moore, an Air Station Houston rescue swimmer dons his rescue gear. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Moore arrived at Air Station Houston on Nov. 1, 2007. He diligently worked to complete his final qualifications, and in May 2008 he became qualified to stand duty as a rescue swimmer. Between May 2008 and September 2008 Moore stood regular duty days. During those five months, the search and rescue alarm would sound, but not one case resulted in a rescue. That was until Hurricane Ike reared its ugly head.

On Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, as Air Station Houston personnel made the necessary preparations for landfall of Hurricane Ike, aircrews evacuated to Air Station Corpus Christi, to shelter from the wrath of Ike. Moore, who was appointed to the first fly-away crew headed to Corpus Christi, was anxious to help, regardless of what the relief effort would entail, he said.

At approximately 7 a.m. on Sept. 12, Moore was resting in bed when an Air Station Houston pilot alerted the crew of a pending mission.

“Lt. Moran said, ‘get your gear we’re going back to Houston. There’s SAR,'” said Moore.

Moore, and the rest of the 6512 helicopter rescue crew consisting of Lt. John Moran, Lt.j.g. Dakata Brodie and Petty Officer 2nd Class James Russell, flight mechanic, all suited up for the mission.

As Moore donned his flight helmet and the helicopter powered up, he recalled the radio air traffic was almost overwhelming that morning.

“The radios were spilling over with people in distress,” Moore said.

The rescue helicopter crew of 6512 received its first call, and the crew was ordered to complete a search pattern of possible people in the water. They methodically searched the provided coordinates, but to no avail. Another Air Station Houston helicopter rescue crew flying in the area passed coordinates to 6512, leading to the exact location of five survivors in dire need of the Coast Guard’s assistance. The crew quickly identified the coordinates and located the black truck, containing the reported survivors helplessly clinging to the bed of the truck.

The helicopter was positioned in a hover over the truck, and Russell prepared for a direct deployment of Moore. A direct deployment of the rescue swimmer enables the swimmer to remain attached to the helicopter via a cable, said Moore. In this particular situation, a direct deployment was the most time efficient way to complete this particular rescue with the given time constraints, said Russell.

“It really just came down to everyone knowing their job and knowing this had to be quick. We did the entire checklist like we were supposed to. Everyone knew it had to be done right every time,” said Russell.

Before being deployed to the truck, Moore was told the rescue could take no longer then 20-minutes. The helicopter had a limited amount of fuel to sustain the mission. Needless to say, the pressure was on, but he said he was prepared to handle it.

As Moore was carefully lowered to the bed of the truck, he realized that there were seven survivors instead of the initial report of five survivors; three children and four adults, said Moore.

The conditions on the ground were less then ideal. Moore said he was fighting a storm surge in chest to neck-deep water. He reached the bed of the truck and had to make the crucial decision of who to hoist first. None of the survivors had injuries, so he relied on his A-School training and first hoisted the children, one at a time.

“In school they teach you about a pecking order, so I went for the children first,” said Moore.

As the rescue progressed, the weather conditions slowly deteriorated. The storm surge strengthened, which made the rescue more challenging, and the wind intensified, said Moore.

“I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t breathing heavy. I was just ready to go out and grab another survivor,” said Moore.

After the last survivor had been hoisted, Moore returned to the helicopter and prepared for the flight back to Air Station Houston. He did a thorough check of the condition of the survivors, said Moore.

Once the last survivor was taken off 6512, Moore boarded the helicopter and prepared for the next mission. It was during this brief moment that he reflected on the course of events over the last hour, he said. He attributes the great success of his first rescue to the drive, determination and professionalism of the entire crew of 6512.

“I think they did a fantastic job. My flight mechanic put me down every time right where I needed to be. The pilots did a perfect job. Everything just fell into place. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Moore.

After a few brief moments of reflection, it was back to business for the crew of 6512.

“We went right back out and flew for five more hours. There was an air of excitement following the rescue, but we all knew it wasn’t over,” said Russell.

Helicopter rescue crews, including 6512 worked tirelessly around-the-clock responding to the calls of hundreds of Texans left stranded by Hurricane Ike. On Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, aircrews performed 103 pre-storm rescues. Following the storm, crews saved an additional 106 souls. This collaborative rescue operation included the efforts of helicopters and/or crews from ATC Mobile, Air Stations Atlantic City, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, Elizabeth City, Cape Cod, Clearwater, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Traverse City, MSRT Chesapeake and HITRON Jacksonville.

The original Coast Guard News story with video of the rescue.

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4 Comments

  1. Michael S. Thornton says:

    I was on of the seven saved that fateful morning by these brave men, none the least of, Shane Moore. You are forevermore my HERO. I and the other 6 survivors owe our lives to your selfless service. There are no words to truly thank you enough. God bless you this Veteran’s Day!!

  2. Miranda Hebert says:

    I cant say thank you enough for saving my brother-n-law Michael thornton who is a very special man and has a wonderful family to live for!! With your courage we still have him with us. You will forever be thanked by all of his family!! Thank you SOOOOOOOOO much! God Bless Be safe!

  3. Tina Landry says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH… You saved my friends husband, the father of her children, May God Bless You for helping keep him safe and getting home to his family. You are a true Hero in my eyes.

  4. Barbara Fox says:

    For giving my daughter back her life,my grandchildren back their father and for returning my son-in-law back to this family,I thank you with all of my heart.