The 24 hours of sunlight, enormous marine mammals and vast emptiness create an environment unlike any in the world. It’s no surprise, then, that the melting ice is enticing adventure seekers to experience the untouched frontier. As vessel traffic increases, so does the chance for an accident in this inherently dangerous maritime region. It’s the inevitability of peril that drives many Coast Guard missions, and those missions extend all the way into the Nation’s Arctic. When an adventure on the Chukchi Sea took a turn for the worse, the Coast Guard was ready to respond.
If 60 years of sea duty is a long time, then 60 years of performing aids to navigation maintenance in Southeast Alaska qualifies as an eternity. Imagine working with wind whipping down the straits and narrows, with snow blowing so thick that visibility is more about what you can feel than what you can see. Picture living with the trappings of civilization separated by bays and rivers and mountains and every other obstacle the Last Frontier can muster. Tasked with a mission immeasurably crucial, if humbly unnoticed, to the people who live there, this is the life of the Coast Guard Cutter Elderberry and its crew of eight.
The United Service Organization and American300 team recently visited Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak was one of six Coast Guard communities that the group visited during their trip to Alaska. “This was a great tour that we went on,” said Lucas Hoge. “To see the Coast Guard in action, get to know them and see what they do has been great. I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Coast Guard reservists assigned to Port Security Unit 301 in Cape Cod, Mass., provided port security and communications support in Anchorage, Alaska, during the 2014 National Exercise Program’s Capstone Exercise. During the exercise, the Port of Anchorage, which processes approximately 90 percent of all cargo arriving in Alaska, was heavily damaged by the simulated earthquake and knocked out of commission.
In the spring of 1942, 22-year-old Joseph Tezanos, a factory worker and Spanish immigrant, enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. His life would change forever. By the end of the decade, Tezanos would be a highly decorated war hero, a survivor of one of World War II’s worst accidental disasters, and one of the first Hispanic American officers in the U.S. Coast Guard. Tezanos’ story is the American dream realized.
Sailing the Bering Sea is tough duty but these treacherous Alaskan waters are a day-to-day reality aboard Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska. As the crew carries out it’s role as “The Aleutian Keeper,” they often turns to “Q” – Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Quintana. As independent duty corpsman, Quintana is the only medical professional aboard. He is responsible for a myriad of duties including daily sickbay visits, vaccinations, monitoring crew medical readiness, conducting mandatory medical training, overseeing medical drills and enforcing sanitation standards.
For many, the fall season means cooling temperatures, leaves turning and all things pumpkin. But for the men and women of Air Station Kodiak, the fall is all about the cold, Cold Bay to be exact. Kodiak stood up a seasonal forward operating location in Cold Bay, Alaska, in advance of winter fisheries with one MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and rotating crews. A second helicopter and crew will remain at the ready in Kodiak to assist in any long-range or complex cases.
The last MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward deployed to Cordova, Alaska, for the summer season returned to its home base of Kodiak closing out a season of lifesaving. Throughout the deployment, which started May 1, 2013, aircrews out of forward operating location Cordova flew on 26 cases, saved 11 and assisted 18.
Coast Guard Cutter SPAR is a sea-going buoy tender that sails the waters of the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. The patrols are long, the work is hard and the days are cold. Keeping the crew motivated, not to mention their stomach’s full, is Petty Officer 1st Class Brittany Smith.
For 40 consecutive years Lois Bouton has written letters to Coast Guard men and women, earning her the nickname the Coast Guard Lady. Bouton, a native of Lake County, Ill., and current resident of Rogers, Ark., reported to boot camp Sept. 3, 1943 at the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Springs, Fla. After a month of basic training, she then spent five months in radioman school in Atlantic City, N.J., where she learned to translate Morse code.