Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: AST2 Jonathan Kreske

Pacific Area Commander Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray and 17th District Commander Rear Adm. Dan Abel present the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Kreske at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2015.   U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

Pacific Area Commander Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray and 17th District Commander Rear Adm. Dan Abel present the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Kreske at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

 

Written by Auxiliarist Tracey Mertens

What is your definition of heroism?

While to some the first definition that comes to mind might be a one-time heroic action, we would like to provide you with a different type of example. Not just a single act in the heat-of-the-moment, but a consistent display of extraordinary heroism. A consistency and perseverance demonstrated in decision-making and problem-solving where an individual, on more than one occasion, moves beyond their training and everyday duties, and applies those skills in the service of others.

We take this opportunity to introduce you to Coast Guard rescue swimmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Kreske. Born in 1983 in San Bernardino, Calif., Kreske began his service at an early age by joining the Boy Scouts and becoming a lifeguard. Perhaps that dedication to others was gifted to him by his parents. His mother worked for the office of emergency management and his father was a city firefighter.

With a love of the water and an eye on the Coast Guard as his goal, Kreske swam competitively for 15 years. He navigated life’s challenges after high school and was finally awarded entrance into the Coast Guard in 2006.

After being stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton for three years, he was given the opportunity to compete at Aviation Survival Technician “A” school at Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. And it was there that he passed the tests and training to earn the position of AST before moving onto the air station in San Diego, Calif., to work for the next four years. Today he stands the watch at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, where he works daily in one of the most challenging environments on the planet.

While it’s true that rescue swimmers in general are a group of men and women that perform an important service to our communities and nation, there is nothing everyday or standard about Kreske’s application of that service. Kreske displays a seriousness and stillness that has carried him and his shipmates through extraordinary peril on numerous occasions. And as you will see through these specific examples, he is extraordinary beyond just the application of his training.

AST2 Jonathan Kreske conducts cliff ops training on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Air Station Kodiak aircrews often train for these rescues to stay proficient in the event they are needed to rescue someone from a cliff side. .  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Tracey Mertens.

AST2 Jonathan Kreske conducts cliff ops training on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Air Station Kodiak aircrews often train for these rescues to stay proficient in the event they are needed to rescue someone from a cliff side. . U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Tracey Mertens.

The Grounding of the fishing vessel “Jenohah” – Kodiak Island, Alaska – July 9, 2014

The hurricane force of the rotor wash pounded down on the deck of the fishing vessel that had run aground, and was now taking on water. Kreske was directing the crew to deploy dewatering pumps to two areas of the vessels’ below-deck cabins. The goal was to first stop it from sinking, and then empty the water out enough to allow the rescue assistance team from Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island access to patch the holes. Kreske soon realized there was a problem. The gasoline-powered pump had to be run above the deck or the team would be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the confined space, but the 15-foot pump hose was too short to reach from above the bow access hatch. As the crew worked to patch the holes on the portside, Kreske searched the vessel for supplies. Though he had no real mechanical boat experience, he set his mind to devising a way to lengthen the hose. Pipe fittings that were found didn’t match and the electric saw failed to cut the steel, but Kreske soon located a grinding wheel. The team used this tool to cut away the remaining fitting and attempt the final joining. They hoped it would hold as hundreds of gallons of water would be forced through it under pressure, but there was no guarantee that the make-shift 30-feet of hose construction would function. Against the odds, it did.

Medevac from the Russian tanker Energy Conqueror Jan. 18, 2013 – San Diego, Calif.

Hoisted down from a hovering Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, Kreske knew he was facing a potentially panicked crew that did not speak English. Negotiating the language barrier with the crew, he was quickly led to a man with a severe injury to his foot. It appeared tourniquets would’t be enough to deal with the blood loss, shock and pain, and fastest transport to a higher level of care was necessary if the man was to be saved. Kreske had barely started the monumental task of stabilization for transport when the crew urgently motioned for him to follow them to a second crewmember with a head injury.

With no backup and only one litter, Kreske had to think outside the box. He figured out way to rig the litter so that it would be able to safely hoist both injured mariners without wasting critical time changing the configuration.

These are just two examples of Kreske’s ability to remain calm under pressure. Kreske’s perseverance and strategic thinking beyond the basic scope of his training when faced with difficult situations led him to earn the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor. This prestigious medal is awarded to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary qualities of leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism. It honors those who have made lasting contributions to the United States of America by assisting their community, state, country, and fellow man.

Kreske was presented the award by Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, Pacific Area commander, and Rear Adm. Dan Abel, 17th District commander, during a ceremony at Base Kodiak, Feb. 18, 2015. It’s through these recognitions that acts of heroism can be honored, shared, remembered, but most importantly, defined.

AST2 Jonathan Kreske poses for a photo with members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, after receiving their Medal of Honor award Feb. 18, 2015.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Tracey Mertens.

AST2 Jonathan Kreske poses for a photo with members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, after receiving their Medal of Honor award Feb. 18, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Tracey Mertens.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,