2016 Pacific Area Awards Recap
Coast Guard Foundation proudly honored those serving in the Coast Guard's Pacific Area on Friday, September 23 in San Francisco. This, the 31st annual awards, paid tribute the men and women serving across the Pacific area highlighting their important missions and saluting individual acts of heroism.
The evening’s standout award for heroism was the presentation to AST2 Darren Harrity who received the Admiral Chester R. Bender Award. Petty Officer Harrity, a rescue swimmer stationed at North Bend, Oregon, truly defines the word hero for his selfless actions on the morning of July 21, 2015.
Harrity was part of the CGNR 6519 helicopter crew which launched from Oregon’s Coast Guard Sector North Bend flying through thick fog and strong winds to arrive on-scene within 45 minutes answering a MAYDAY call from the commercial fishing vessel JAMIE K which had run aground 60 miles north of Cape Blanco.
After observing the JAMIE K crushed against the rocks and the four fishermen in a life raft clinging to the bow, the aircrew deployed Harrity. Due to severe weather the crew were unable to hoist the fishermen to safety, Harrity choose to individually tow each survivor to the shore - swimming over one mile in extreme conditions.
“I would like to thank the Coast Guard Foundation, my crew Lt. Wes Jones, LT Justin Church and Petty Officer James Froese - without them I know I wouldn’t be up here right now,” said Harrity.
Kim Estes, graduate of the California Maritime Academy, actor and consultant, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies with keynote addresses from the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Charles Michel and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Chairman, President and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki.
“The Coast Guard Foundation provides unique support for our members, that we, the United States Coast Guard cannot provide,” said ADM Michel. “We cannot thank them enough for all the work that they do - they are absolutely critical to the future of our Coast Guard.”
This year’s event also had a unique focus on the Coast Guard’s work defending the maritime cyber domain with ABS’s chairman applauding the Coast Guard’s cyber security initiatives and expressing pride in the long shared history between the Coast Guard and ABS.
“When we work together to secure our systems – whether on land or at sea – the more secure future we’ll see and the safer we’ll all be,” said Wiernicki.