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Coast Guard Foundation, Alaska Leaders Honor Coast Guard Helicopter Crew for Daring Rescue

Alaska Award Dinner Crew of CG-06037
Ron large profile cropped
by Ron LaBrec
August 26, 2022

More than 260 guests, including Coast Guard commanders; tribal, state, and local officials; and Alaska industry leaders, gathered in the ballroom of the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Aug. 23, to honor Coast Guard members. The Coast Guard Foundation’s Alaska Salutes the Coast Guard event recognized the work of Coast Guard members assigned to Coast Guard District Seventeen.

Award dinner color guard

A special award was given to the crew of Coast Guard helicopter 6037 for a daring medical evacuation of a fisherman who had been crushed by a 2,000 pound crab pot on the fishing vessel Patricia Lee, 100 nautical miles east of Adak, Alaska. On Oct. 19, 2021, the crew, consisting of pilots Lt. Cmdr. John Filipowicz and Lt. Alex Martfeld, flight mechanic Petty Officer 1st Class Christian Sandberg, and rescue swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Burke navigated their helicopter through more than 200 miles of snowstorms and winds up to 60 knots, to reach the Patricia Lee.

Arriving with only 20 minutes of on-scene fuel remaining before they must return to land, Petty Officer Sandberg successfully lowered Petty Officer Burke to the rolling deck of the vessel despite two masts and other hazards. Petty Officer Burke provided immediate aid and prepared the patient for a hoist to the helicopter. The crew safely hoisted the patient and Petty Officer Burke, and flew through squalls to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where they transferred the patient to a waiting ambulance. When they landed in Dutch Harbor the helicopter had only four minutes of fuel remaining. The dramatic rescue was featured on an episode of the Deadliest Catch.

The Foundation is thankful for the generous support of Shield of Freedom sponsor JAG Alaska and Guardian sponsors ConocoPhillips, LYNDEN, Marathon Petroleum Company, Matson, NC Power Systems, Petro Star Inc., and Trident Seafoods, as well as more than two dozen other companies and individuals who sponsored the event, which raised more than $225,000 for programs that assist Coast Guard members and families nationwide.

Full Event Program and Sponsor List

Cover photo: The crew of Coast Guard helicopter 6037 receiving an award at the Alaska Salutes the Coast Guard gala in Anchorage, Alaska, on Aug. 25, 2022, for the Oct. 19, 2021, rescue of a man crushed by a commercial crab pot aboard the fishing vessel Patricia Lee 100 nautical miles east of Adak, Alaska.