History’s dedication to Coast Guard Aviation

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally

Rear Adm. Jake Korn, commander, 7th Coast Guard District (center), cutters the ribbon for the refreshed Coast Guard Aviation display at the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., Jan. 27, 2015. Korn is the Coast Guard's 24th Ancient Albatross, which is the senior most active duty aviator. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

Rear Adm. Jake Korn, commander, 7th Coast Guard District (center), cutters the ribbon for the refreshed Coast Guard Aviation display at the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., Jan. 27, 2015. Korn is the Coast Guard’s 24th Ancient Albatross, which is the senior most active duty aviator. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

A Navy captain’s concern over lack of representation of Naval Aviation history in 1955, resulted in the National Naval Aviation Museum opening eight years later in 1963 to share and educate people on the nation’s Naval aviation program.

Over the years since its opening, the National Naval Aviation Museum has restored and displayed more than 150 aircraft from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation communities.

It “is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida,” according to the museum’s website.

On Jan. 27, 2015, Rear Adm. John H. Korn, 7th Coast Guard District commander and 24th Coast Guard Ancient Albatross, presented the museum a Distinguished Public Service Award. Korn also cut the ribbon of the refreshed and new Coast Guard Aviation display.

Former Coast Guard aviators spanning the years from the World War II era to the present were in attendance. Members of the Coast Guard Aviation Association, formerly known as the Ancient Order of the Pterodactyl, helped procure some of the older Coast Guard aircrafts on display at the museum, like the Douglas Dolphin RD-4 fixed-wing aircraft.

“The Pterodactyls were able to buy the RD-4 Dolphin for $5,000 for the museum and the museum restoration crew took a beat up old airplane into something we’re all proud of,” said retired Capt. George Krietemeyer, former president of the Coast Guard Aviation Association. “This specific aircraft was flown by Rear Adm. Frank Leamy in 1939 before World War II.”

Leamy’s son, Frank Leamy, Jr., attended the ceremony and was glad to be apart of such a legacy of the Coast Guard.

“At some point, as a son, I looked back at my heritage, especially my Coast Guard heritage, and felt it was my duty to help show the Coast Guard’s aviation history through my memorabilia from my father’s time in the service,” said Leamy.

Rear Adm. Jake Korn, commander, 7th Coast Guard District, stands with Jeff Drew, one of the last living Coast Guard World War II veteran, after a ribbon cutting ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., Jan. 27, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

Rear Adm. Jake Korn, commander, 7th Coast Guard District, stands with Jeff Drew, one of the last living Coast Guard World War II veteran, after a ribbon cutting ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., Jan. 27, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

The museum received the award for locating, repairing aircraft to museum quality standards, repainting and displaying seven more Coast Guard aircraft, with the new 10,000 square foot Coast Guard exhibit, containing more than 100 artifacts, models, photos and videos depicting almost 100 years of Coast Guard aviation history. The Naval Aviation Hall of Honor has also inducted four Coast Guard aviators into its display.

The ceremony took place in the museum’s Hanger Bay One hosting more than 300 Coast Guard men and women, retired military personnel and other guests.

The Coast Guard Aviation program was born nearly 100 years ago, following the merger of the Revenue Cutter and the Lifesaving Services forming the modern day Coast Guard.

The names Hall, Stone and Chiswell are attributed to the beginnings of the Coast Guard’s aviation program. Capt. B.M. Chiswell, 2nd Lt. Norman B. Hall and 3rd Lt. Elmer F. Stone believed people lost at sea and distressed vessels could be located far quicker from the air than from a surface asset like a small boat or cutter.

Stone became the Coast Guard’s first official aviator and set the course for the service’s aviation program. The years since Stone flew the Navy Curtiss NC-4 flying boat across the Atlantic in 1919, the Coast Guard has seen multiple aircraft come and go that have made the difference between life and death for millions of people.

The National Naval Aviation Museum has more than 400 volunteers who are dedicated to preserving the history for the nation’s maritime services aviation programs. The museum also hosts more than 800,000 people every year.

“Coast Guard aviation has done some amazing things that most people don’t realize like the [aircraft] catapult was invented by a Coast Guard aviator and really started the Navy carrier program,” said Korn. “It’s always essential to know your roots. It’s vitally important to come back and look at our history because it can teach us things about the future, like what kind of threats may come up or technological changes we may have to adapt to. The Coast Guard has a legacy of saving lives and aviation is one of those technological changes that have helped to rescue millions upon millions of lives.”

Retired Vice Adm. John Currier (left), Frank Leamy, Jr., retired Capt. George Krietemeyer and Rear Adm. Jake Korn, 7th Coast Guard District commander, stand in from of a restored Douglas RD Dolphin fixed-wing aircraft after a dedication ceremony of the Coast Guard aviation section at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, Jan. 27, 2015. The resotred Douglas RD Dolphin was flown by Rear Adm. Frank Leamy, Sr., who served in the Coast Guard from 1922 until he retired in 1960. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

Retired Vice Adm. John Currier (left), Frank Leamy, Jr., retired Capt. George Krietemeyer and Rear Adm. Jake Korn, 7th Coast Guard District commander, stand in from of a restored Douglas RD Dolphin fixed-wing aircraft after a dedication ceremony of the Coast Guard aviation section at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, Jan. 27, 2015. The resotred Douglas RD Dolphin was flown by Rear Adm. Frank Leamy, Sr., who served in the Coast Guard from 1922 until he retired in 1960. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

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2 Responses

  1. Doug Douglass says:

    Great displays…we were there two years ago….Semper Paratus.

  2. simmss says:

    I was there four days ago (2-28-15) and really enjoyed the Navy portion of it but was disappointed in the CG side. Seemed out of the way and there were some handmade paintings by children that were good works for children but seemed out of place for a museum of this caliber. When I think of aircraft the Navy and Air Force discard yearly, it is staggering and so much more can be done to budget the CG who seem to get more missions.