Guardians of 2010: December

Each week we honor members of the Coast Guard family as “Guardian of the Week” for their devotion to duty and contributions to our service. As we close out 2010, we’re looking back over the year to celebrate the contributions of the Guardians of 2010. Today, we revisit those recognized in December 2010.

LT James O’Mara – December 3, 2010

CGC Farallon crew

Lt. O'Mara and the Farallon crew have redefined what it means to work together as a team. Photo courtesy of LTJG Christopher O’Meara.

We’ve spent a lot of time during this Compass series talking about teamwork. So, it seems only fitting that we would kick-off December with the story of Lt. James O’Mara and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon.

As Commanding Officer of Farallon, O’Mara has the responsibility to create a positive culture aboard his unit. At no time was that teamwork more evident than during a seven-day period where his crew stopped two drug smuggling ventures and one migrant smuggling attempt.

Click here to read more about the Farallon and her crew as they “Deal Justice” across the Caribbean!

SN Kristin Reger – December 10, 2010

Kristin Reger Lunkley video

Click on the image to watch a video in YouTube of the Coast Guard Medal award ceremony Dec. 8, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard video by PA3 Erik Swanson.

When you think of a Coastie putting his or her life on the line by jumping into the water to save a life, the first image that pops into your mind is likely a highly trained rescue swimmer. The search and rescue case that resulted in Seaman Kristin Reger being awarded the Coast Guard Medal will forever change that image.

Swimming out to an overturned sailboat Seaman Kristin Reger was not thinking of anything except the man trapped beneath the hull. With a polypropylene line connecting her to the Coast Guard Station Golden Gate 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, her training kicked in as she battled four-foot seas to reach the boat.

Click here to read more on this act of extreme daring heroism.

BM2 Joseph D’Amico – December 17, 2010

BM2 D'Amico on the bridge

D’Amico serves as the Officer of the Deck on CGC Bear. Photo courtesy of LTJG Jason Acuna.

Command of a Coast Guard Cutter is one of the highest honors a seagoing military officer will ever hold. The responsibility of the officer of the deck (OOD) is to stand in for the ship’s captain during your watch. This position is reserved for officers and the most senior of enlisted personnel. That is what makes the qualification of Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph D’Amico as OOD for the 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bear just one more highlight of an outstanding cutterman’s Coast Guard career.

When D’Amico is not standing watch on the bridge, he is one of Bear’s “go to” smallboat coxswains. D’Amico proved to be an instrumental asset during the cutter’s recent patrol where the crew was involved with five separate go-fast pursuits within a two-week period.

Click here to read more on the promising career of a young boatswain’s mate.

Coast Guard Santa and elves – December 24, 2010

Santa and his elves

Santa and his elves load a Kodiak-based Coast Guard Air Station helicopter in preparation for Santa to the Villages outreach around Kodiak Island. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Jonathan Lally.

The Coast Guard is a unique military service because we live within the very communities where we operate. That makes for lasting relationships and traditions that continue on long after the change of the watch at a Coast Guard unit. One such tradition is the Santa to the Villages program.

The program, now in its 37th year, takes volunteers from the Spouse’s Association of Kodiak and teams them up with [Coast Guard Cutter] Spar and an air crew from Air Station Kodiak to deliver holiday cheer to seven remote villages on Kodiak Island: Ahkiok, Larsen Bay, Karluk, Ouzinkie, Port Lions and Old Harbor.

Click here to read more about how one group of Coasties is making a difference in the community where they live and serve.

AST3 Christopher Austin – December 31, 2010

AST3 Christopher Austin

AST3 Christopher Austin saved the life of a fisherman on his first rescue as a qualified Coast Guard rescue swimmer. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Kelly Parker.

Think your first day on the job was tough? For one of the Coast Guard’s newest rescue swimmers, his first day involved a rescue off the always dangerous coast of Washington state and the realization that you simply cannot save every victim. Petty Officer Christopher Austin was standing his first watch after graduating from “A” school when the call came in that two fishermen were in the water after their boat capsized.

“Everything that was going through my head was all the training that I’ve had in the past two years and especially throughout A-school,” recalls Austin. “As soon as I grabbed him [the fisherman], I put my arms up underneath him, and a wave hit me with so much force my goggles came up off my face. I kept working, kept trying to get this guy’s head above the water.”

Click here to read more about what goes through the mind of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer on his first mission.

Congratulations to all of the Guardians of 2010!