Commandants Statement Concerning Downed Coast Guard Helicopter

The following All Hands Message from Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard was issued today.

To the Men and Women of the Coast Guard:

It is with great regret that I inform you of a tragic loss of three of our shipmates. Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Andrew Wischmeier, Aviation Survival Technician First Class (AST1) David Skimin and Aviation Maintenance Technician Second Class (AMT2) Joshua Nichols lost their lives when their HH-65 helicopter crashed five nautical miles south of Honolulu, Hawaii. A fourth member of the crew was also in the aircraft but is still missing. Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Hawaii Air National Guard and local fire and police assets will continue searching and we will make every effort to locate our shipmate and wingman.

The incident occurred while the aircrew of CG-6505 was performing small boat hoist operations with a Station Honolulu 47′ motor life boat during the early evening hours of 04 September. Immediately after the crash, a Honolulu Fire Department Response Boat recovered LCDR Wischmeier, AST1 Skimin and AMT2 Nichols without any vital signs. The Fire Department boat crew performed CPR and the three Coast Guardsmen were medically evacuated to a local hospital but they did not survive.

Our highest priority now is the families, friends and shipmates of the fallen aircrew. Each one was married with children. Our hearts go out to their loved ones during this difficult time. All of the families have been notified. The entire Coast Guard will provide whatever support services are necessary for the families and crew of Air Station Barbers Point. We will conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident to determine the cause and help prevent future incidents.

This terrible accident is a reminder that we operate in an extremely hazardous environment. Coast Guard men and women go into harm’s way to train and conduct operations each day. In difficult times, we must re-dedicate ourselves to performing operations safely and effectively. The aircrew of CG-6505 epitomized the Guardian Ethos and the Nation is grateful for their service.

Please join Secretary Chertoff, me and all who serve in taking a moment to reflect on the loss of these Guardians. Please keep their families and fellow crew members in your thoughts and prayers. Find time to also recognize the value of your own loved ones, friends and teammates. Details of the memorial services and how you can express your condolences to the families will be provided when available. I will also notify you of the search results for the missing member of the aircrew. Thank you for your dedication to the Coast Guard and to each other.

Admiral Thad Allen
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

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  1. Brian Miller says:

    Please, please let me and everyone know when there will be any kind of memorial service and how I can attend. David Skimin was my friend and inspiration. This has shaken me more than you could know.

    Thank you.

  2. cgnews says:

    We will be publishing the information as soon as it is available.

  3. Fran Thomas says:

    My heart breaks for these families. My son is stationed in Michigan. He describes these training exercises with his small boat, or being out on the ice in the most bitter of winter conditions. These men and women who serve our country in the United States Coast Guard are worthy of our prayers and vigilant support. One man in my community, with all of his children safely in the area, none in Iraq, none in military service, told me how “safe and easy” the Coast Guard is. My son was in Detroit at the time sawing two-foot holes into the ice for ice rescue training.

    May God bring comfort to these crew members’ families and help them greatly in the weeks and months to come. Semper Paratus. God bless.

  4. Lyn Frederick says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. My brother-in-law is at AS Barbers Point and my husband is retired CG. Once a Coastie always a Coastie. It is a terrible loss and our hearts our heavy even far away. The job you do is more important than most people know, but it is so important. We are blessed to have you all in our service.


  5. Renae Moore says:

    My husband recently retired from the CG after 30 years of service and having first hand experience of losing a crew, my heart aches for the families of these courageous men. Please know my prayers are with you.

  6. Jason Chafin says:

    I grew up with Dave Skimin in San Bernardino and we had many fun times together both in high school and after when we both lived in Santa Cruz. I learned of this tragedy from a mutual friend and am shocked and saddened, but also glad to have been able to consider him a friend. Dave had a quick wit and was good for a laugh, but was also a caring soul. He was a great surfer and self-taught board shaper, a skill he would later put to great use up in Kodiak. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. I’m in the Bay Area now, but am sending thoughts and prayers west to Hawaii and South to Berdoo.

  7. Bo Straw says:

    We used to surf, skate, play guitar, and talk about life and things we want to do and places we wanted to go. We were close, but grew apart so many years ago. I always thought we would be able to get back together as old friends with many different stories to tell. I live on another island in Hawaii, but not too far from Dave. Our paths just never passed again, and I’ll forever regret the missed opportunities to be able to tell him how much he was an influence on my life.
    He is family to me, and as to so many he has shared with,
    …he will be missed, but never forgotten.