Saturday, March 3, 2012

CG HH-6535

It's been a really bizarre week. On Tuesday night, a Coast Guard HH-65 went crashed into the Mobile Bay with one of my friends as the co-pilot. I was called in to help manage the search and rescue and salvage operations and it has been a very emotionally-charged few days. Resources from several different agencies flooded the bay to search for the four crewmembers but the only person recovered on the first night was the rescue swimmer who was sadly declared deceased shortly thereafter. When they recovered the fuselage, the three missing crewmembers were not there. Dive teams worked exhaustingly long hours in the murky waters and were finally able to recover two of the bodies on Thursday. Thomas and LCDR Taylor were brought to Sector Mobile late on Thursday night and there was a small crowd of Sector and ATC members there to welcome them. It was one of the saddest experiences of my life, to see my friend and classmate wrapped in an American flag and carried into the ambulance. But I can't imagine not being there for that. 

Life is so fragile and precious... We Coast Guard men and women are such a small community that when something like this happens, we are all deeply affected. One of my best friends worked as a rescue swimmer with Fernando Jorge for years. Another friend of mine was stationed with Andrew Knight when they first came into the service. An award citation that Dale Taylor received as a LT has been circulating through my group of friends this week. If you get a second, please read it and consider the bravery and selflessness that is required of our aviators.   

And of course, Thomas Cameron. I had the great honor of meeting his parents and brother yesterday evening and it was great to hear everyone recount their hilarious and moving stories about Thomas. Sorely missed, he is.

I may have to work on the response tomorrow, so I'm not sure if the marathon is going to happen or not. It seems pretty insignificant to me right now. Honestly, I think I would rather work and be part of the team who gets to recover the final crewmember of HH-6535 (the flight mechanic is still missing) but I guess we'll just wait and see what happens.

My classmates set up a memorial fund for Thomas. If you are interested, please visit http://www.depositagift.com/4495/thomascameron/Welcome/registry 


Your legacies live on in our hearts


2 comments:

  1. Thomas will be missed. I didn't know him, but I feel the love you all have for each other in the Coast Guard. You are all in my thoughts & prayers<3

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    1. Thanks for your prayers and kind words :)

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