Coast Guard aviator receives Royal award for service in England

KODIAK, Alaska – Not quite a knighthood but instead U.S. Coast Guard aviator Lt. Sean Krueger recently received a Royal award for leading a rescue mission in 2008 while on assignment with the British Navy.

He earned the prestigious Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award presented by the British Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators at their annual Trophies and Awards Banquet in London Oct. 29.

He was recognized for his actions as the aircraft commander of “Rescue 193”, an H3 Sea King helicopter, resulting in the rescue of a fisherman suffering from a life-threatening abdominal injury. The man was rescued from a fishing vessel 172 miles southwest of the Isles of Scilly in the Atlantic Ocean in 58 mph winds and seas of more than 40 feet.

“It was by far the most challenging rescue that I have ever done,” said Krueger. “There was a distinct point where we considered aborting due to the challenging conditions, however, after one last try, we got our guy aboard.”

During Krueger’s two-year exchange tour with the 771 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy stationed out of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Southwest England, the squadron averaged nearly 300 search and rescue cases each year.

The Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award is presented annually to an individual member of a helicopter crew, a complete crew or the crews of multiple helicopters, for an act of outstanding courage or devotion to duty in the course of land or sea search and rescue operations.

The crew of “Rescue 193” was thrilled to meet and be congratulated by Capt. Charles Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways captain who landed flight 1549 on the Hudson River earlier this year and received the guild’s Master’s Medal at the banquet.

“It should have been the other way around, but so it goes,” said Krueger.

Krueger has completed his tour with the 771 Naval Air Squadron and is currently serving as an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka.

The Guild is a premier organization for aviators, established in 1929 to maintain the highest standards of air safety through the promotion of good airmanship. The Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award was first awarded in 1978.

The crew was also recognized by the Shipwrecked Fisherman and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society Oct. 14 and received the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award for an outstanding air and sea rescue.

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