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Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans Honored for Lifesaving Work in the Gulf of Mexico

The Coast Guard Foundation recognized Coast Guard members serving the Gulf Coast and Heartland at its annual New Orleans event.
3 Coast Guard members accept an award
Ron labrec web v
by Ron LaBrec
March 11, 2024

The Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District was held on March 8 at the National WWII Museum and was attended by Coast Guard members, maritime and defense industry leaders, and supporters of the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard Foundation recognized Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and their search and rescue partners for the lifesaving medical evacuations they perform to save mariners and passengers in the Gulf of Mexico. From rescuing injured and ill patients from oil rigs, commercial ships, fishing vessels and recreational boats, medevacs frequently take helicopter crews far from shore, often in poor weather, to conduct difficult hoisting operations from a variety of vessels that present unique challenges. 

The rescue of a passenger from the cruise ship Carnival Dream in April 2023 brings into sharp focus the difficulty and risks inherent in this important work. Watch more about this dangerous and inspiring rescue in the video below.

Also honored was Walter E. Blessey, Jr. Blessey currently serves as the chairman of Blessey Marine Services. Since founding Blessey Enterprises in 1978, he has grown the Blessey Marine family of companies into one of the most respected liquid cargo operators in the inland marine transportation industry. Blessey Marine operates 85 towboats and 180 tank barges that service major petroleum and petrochemical companies.

Blessey is a recognized leader in the inland marine industry and served on the board of directors and executive committee of the American Waterways Operators. He is also a trustee emeritus of the Coast Guard Foundation Board of Trustees. During his tenure on the foundation’s board, he provided strategic governance and support during a key period in its history.

The Coast Guard Commandant standing at a podium on stage.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan addresses attendees at the Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District event in New Orleans, March 8.

The Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan, Vice Commandant Admiral Steve Poulin, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Heath Jones, and other national and regional leaders attended, as did Coast Guard members from throughout the Gulf Coast. 

The keynote speaker, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan, spoke about the relevance of both the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Foundation community. “Our reach is global, and the demand for the United Stares Coast Guard has never been greater and it continues to rise in demand,” said Fagan.

“And as that occurs, your support, the support you provide for our workforce, our families, becomes even more critical. And so the work that you’ve done to support Coast Guard children to ensure activities outside of school, the benefits your providing spouses, all you do to support Coast Guard families, we could not do what we need to do to support the American public, without the support you provide as a Coast Guard Foundation.

“Whether it’s in times of disaster with disaster relief, or just the challenges that families face day in and day out, as they try to get their children educated, you are critical to their support and I thank you for it.”

The Coast Guard Foundation is grateful for dinner sponsor Bollinger Shipyards, major sponsors AccuTRANS, Birdon, Blessey Marine Services Inc., Cheniere Energy, Hornbeck Offshore, and all those sponsoring and attending for their support, which funds programs in the region and nationwide. 

Since 1994 the event has raised nearly $13 million for programs that support Coast Guard members.

Title Image: Coast Guard Lieutenant Stephen Ratasky, Petty Officer 2nd Class Corey Bridges, and Lieutenant Josoph Neff accept the 2024 Coast Guard Foundation Award on behalf of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and their partners at the Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District event in New Orleans, March 8.

Featured Partner
Bollinger Shipyards has been the dinner sponsor of the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District for many years. Bollinger Shipyards builds the Coast Guard's Fast Response Cutters and is currently building the Polar Security Cutter, a heavy icebreaker that will conduct Coast Guard missions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Featured Partner
Cheniere supports the Coast Guard Foundation across an array of events and programs. Cheniere is a full-service global provider of clean, secure, and affordable LNG.
Featured Partner
Hornbeck Offshore is a leading provider of marine transportation services to exploration and production, oilfield service, offshore construction and military customers. A valued and enduring partner, Hornbeck Offshore has supported many Coast Guard Foundation programs and events for more than a quarter of a century.
Featured Partner
AccuTRANS Inc. is an industry-leading tankerman and Marine Logistics company. Over the past 25 years AccuTRANS has exceeded workplace expectations by continuing to treat customers and employees like family. They have been a dedicated supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District and Texas Salutes the Coast Guard events.
Featured Partner
Birdon America is an established and trusted partner of the United States Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, currently delivering on major projects for the U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S Navy. Birdon America supports the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District and Salute to the Coast Guard in our Nation's Capital events.
Featured Partner
Blessey Marine Services, Inc. owns and operates one of the youngest multi-faceted inland tank barge and vessel fleets in the United States. Blessey Marine Services is a dedicated supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Eighth Coast Guard District as well as education and other programs.

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