ATLANTIC CITY – Fourteen Coast Guard members were awarded prestigious medals for their heroism and meritorious achievement in numerous search and rescue cases and hurricanes, Wednesday, Oct. 9 at a ceremony held at the Atlantic City Naval Air Station.
During the ceremony, 13 members were awarded the Air Medal and one member was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The combined actions of the award recipients resulted in a total of 94 search and rescue cases, 66 lives saved and 84 lives assisted in adverse conditions during hurricanes Florence and Harvey, and four local search and rescue cases between 2018 and 2019.
The Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded to Lt. James Rader, was presented for extraordinary achievement while participating in life-saving rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey where he flew under 200-foot cloud ceilings, navigated unlit towers and exhaust stacks in near-zero visibility to conduct multiple search and rescue missions including the medical evacuation of a 2-year old girl, as well as a patient who required specialized medical care due injuries.
The recipients of the Air Medals who distinguished themselves with acts of heroism or meritorious achievement for a myriad of rescues were Lt. Tyler Bittner, Lt. Stephen Bondira, Lt. Jason Brownlee, Lt. Nathaniel Giorgio, Lt. Matthew Hardgrove, Lt. Joshua Mitcheltree, Lt. Joshua Scritchfield, Lt. Kevin Smit, Chief Petty Officer Bradford Fitzpatrick, Petty Officer 2nd Class Homero Haro, Petty Officer 3rd Class Clinton Johnson, Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Maccaferri, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Riverasanchez, Petty Officer 3rd Class Hector Vega, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Weissman.
“The actions, heroism and achievement that went into each and every one of these awards is evidence of the passion and dedication these Coast Guard members bring to the service, the public, and to emergency situations,” Commanding Officer Capt. Sean O’Brien said. “These medals each stand as a representation of what draws so many to the Coast Guard – to save lives and rescue those in need.”