Shipmate of the Week – LCDR Neil Orlich

Members of Air Station Clearwater's facilities engineering division. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Somers.

Members of Air Station Clearwater’s facilities engineering division. Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Somers.

Anytime, Anywhere is the motto of Air Station Clearwater. With an operating area that includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean basin and the Bahamas, it is a fitting statement for the missions the aircrews perform. But it’s not just the aircrews that are ready for anything, it is also the engineers.

Leading the facilities engineering division was Lt. Cmdr. Neil Orlich, a 2000 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He studied civil engineering while at the academy and furthered his engineering knowledge earning a master of engineering from Oregon State University in 2006. His first tour of duty after his graduate program was at Civil Engineering Unit Cleveland where he focused on waterfront and offshore design. From there, he desired a facilities job to broaden his engineering background and soon found himself at the air station in Clearwater.

Air Station ClearwaterThe facilities engineering division – a team of more than 30 – provides preventative and corrective maintenance support to the 72-acre facility, the Coast Guards largest operational unit, which includes two remote operating locations in Great Inagua and Andros Island, Bahamas. The facilities engineering division recently earned The Cowart Award, presented for outstanding contributions from a Coast Guard civil engineering and shore facility management program.

At Clearwater, Orlich didn’t just broadened his background, he excelled. A feat he credits to the skilled, devoted team he worked with each and every day.

“The upkeep of Air Station Clearwater is most definitely a team effort,” said Orlich, then noted the work of Chief Petty Officer Jason Bland who manages the base’s four “shops.”

The machinery technician shop provides maintenance for one of the Coast Guard’s largest ground support equipment fleets, comprised of mostly non-standardized equipment. The electrician’s mate shop has played a key role in reducing the base’s energy consumption, saving the Coast Guard more than $60,000 annually. The damage controlman shop, comprised of only three damage controlmen, handles all carpentry, welding, plumbing and general repair services. The master at arms shop completes the daily cleaning, upkeep and beautification efforts of the base.

Orlich then shared the contributions of Rock Kries, head of the environmental program; Clint Anstead, maintainer of all heating, ventilation and air conditioning; Mark Voynovich manager of the hazardous materials program; and the department’s Auxiliarist, Lou Miosi.

All of their work is orchestrated by Chief Warrant Officer Sean Cox, “whose leadership, technical guidance, and mentorship have been invaluable in the execution of every project over the past three years,” said Orlich. “Without his hard work and dedication, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we have during my tenure.”

Air Station Clearwater is the largest air station in the Coast Guard. In addition to the local area, their area of operations includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean basin, and the Bahamas. U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse.

Air Station Clearwater is the largest air station in the Coast Guard. In addition to the local area, their area of operations includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean basin, and the Bahamas.
U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael De Nyse.

One of the more remarkable projects the facilities engineering division worked on was the rebuild of a hangar on Andros Island that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. They also supported a build of a new hangar to house Clearwater’s aircraft that supports Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, an international law enforcement and drug interdiction effort.

Orlich has moved on to a new duty station but leaves Clearwater with the knowledge that when people are empowered and work together, they can succeed.

“One thing I have come to appreciate during my tour is the incredible talent and dedication possessed by the men and women of the Coast Guard,” said Orlich. “With the right tools and support, your folks will accomplish great things.”

Do you know a Shipmate that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of Orlich’s dedication to his team, the facilities engineering division – recipients of the The Cowart Award – follow.  Lt. Cmdr. Neil Orlich, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Combs, Lt. Meghan Dillon, Lt. j.g. Joseph Chevalier, Chief Warrant Officer Sean Cox, Chief Petty Officer Jason Bland, Rock Kries, Clint Anstead, Mark Voynovich, Auxiliarist Lou Miosi, Auxiliarist Glenn Dobos, Petty Officer 1st Class Jose Calderon, Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Somers, Petty Officer 1st Class Davion Redd, Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Rendon, Petty Officer 1st Class Jevon Catlin, Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Carr, Petty Officer 2nd Class David Munne, EM3 Scott Armstrong, EM3 Brandon Trammel, Petty Officer 1st Class Miguel Rodriguez, Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Peters, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lasalle, Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Kelly, Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Carmody, Fireman Anthony Arbesu, Seaman Efrain Rosa, Seaman Kent Moore, Seaman Bethany Kimsey, Seaman Allison Dowell, Seaman Gavin Merideth, Fireman Patrick Gill, Fireman Joshua Runkle, Seaman Colby Bailey, Seaman Justin Davern, Seaman Jaclyn Behling.

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