Air Station Clearwater to Hold Flood Relief Awards Ceremony

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater is scheduled to hold an award ceremony Monday at 2 p.m., in honor of the crewmembers who served in the Dominican Republic in support of flood relief following Tropical Storm Noel.

During the ceremony, Rear Adm. Steve Branham, Coast Guard Seventh District Commander, will present four Air Medals, eight Coast Guard Commendation Medals, 24 U.S. Military Assistance and Advisory Group Award certificates and 26 Dominican Republic Honor of Merit Award certificates.

The crewmembers will be honored for their relief assistance to storm ravaged Dominican Republic, which was caused by Tropical Storm Noel. The storm left a path of destruction that affected much of the Dominican Republic’s mountainous countryside , leaving many people without food, water and much needed medical supplies. Due to the massive amounts of rainfall during the storm, many of the rivers flooded, causing bridges to collapse and isolating more than 36 towns and thousands of people.

The crews spent the first day locating the surrounding villages that were cut off from critical supply routes and analyzing damage assessments and documenting the destruction. The second day of relief efforts focused on the distribution of water and rations. Throughout the course of the day, a single helicopter transported approximately 10,000 pounds of food and water.

During that time, a severely dehydrated pregnant woman and a child with a leg laceration were transported to waiting care and a crew delivered desperately needed heart medication to a young boy with Down syndrome.

In the remaining six days, crews continued to ferry tons of rations to and from the supply point over the countries treacherous terrain.

“The efforts of these crews undoubtedly saved countless lives, relieved the suffering of thousands and fostered exceptional goodwill with the Dominican people,” said Capt. Todd A. Sokalzuk, commander of Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. “The limits of their personal endurance were tested as they consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership, superb operational risk management and commitment to success.”

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