Coast Guard member receives award for Hurricane Florence rescue

Capt. John McCarthy, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, presents Petty Officer 2nd Class David Paquin, an aviation survival technician, the Distinguished Flying Cross award during a ceremony held at Air Station Sacrament in McClellan, California, Aug. 21, 2020. The Distinguished Flying Cross is our nation’s highest award for extraordinary aerial achievement. As a valor decoration, it is awarded to recipients for heroism while participating in an aerial flight. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Akiyama)

Capt. John McCarthy, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, presents Petty Officer 2nd Class David Paquin, an aviation survival technician, the Distinguished Flying Cross award during a ceremony held at Air Station Sacrament in McClellan, California, Aug. 21, 2020.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Akiyama)

MCCLELLAN, Calif. — A Coast Guard aircrew member received the Distinguished Flying Cross award Friday at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento for rescues made in North Carolina during 2018’s Hurricane Florence.

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Paquin, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for demonstrating extraordinary heroism while serving as a rescue swimmer aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

“To be put in for this award and to receive it is a complete honor,” said Paquin. “I feel truly blessed. Any Coast Guard mission you go on, whether it’s a medevac, child or adult rescue in the water, you always feel great when you get the person home safe.”

Paquin and the aircrew of the Dolphin helicopter conducted search and rescue operations on Sept. 15, 2018, during the Hurricane Florence response. Navigating thunderstorms, near-zero straight-line visibility, severe precipitation, downdrafts and gusting winds, Paquin and the aircrew responded to several distress calls. During one distress call, Paquin conducted a swift water rescue, operating well outside his training and nearly drowning himself to rescue a man clinging to a tree surrounded by rushing water.

“It was an honor to present an award as prestigious as a Distinguished Flying Cross to Petty Officer Paquin this morning,” said Capt. John McCarthy, the Air Station Sacramento commanding officer. “This is a great example of the versatility and adaptability of our Coast Guard members. One year they may be flying into hurricanes on the East Coast to save lives, and the next year they may be maintaining critical equipment on our fleet of HC-27J Spartan aircraft, supporting search and rescue and law enforcement operations throughout the West Coast of the United States and Eastern Pacific.”

The Distinguished Flying Cross is our nation’s highest award for extraordinary aerial achievement. As a valor decoration, it is awarded to recipients for heroism while participating in an aerial flight.

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