Recap of the 2016 Tribute to the Coast Guard in Our Nation's Capital
The Coast Guard Foundation and its supporters gathered together in Washington DC on June 8, 2016 to honor the United States Coast Guard in our Nation’s Capital and celebrate 100 years of Coast Guard aviation.
The evening’s honored guest was Sergei Sikorsky, son of Igor Sikorsky, the inventor of the practical helicopter, and is a World War II Coast Guard veteran. Mr. Sikorksy served in a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter test and development squadron as a helicopter mechanic. He was on the front lines of the development of the helicopter rescue hoist and participated in hoist development testing and demonstration. He also participated in some of the first search and rescue missions.
Quoting his father Igor Sikorsky, Sergei Sikorsky remarked, "it is not the machine, it’s the air crews" who make it possible to innovate, maintain and fly the aircraft.
Remarks from former commandant Admiral Thad Allen, and current senior leaders Admiral Charles Michel, Vice Commandant and Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant, highlighted the contributions of Coast Guard aviators and the aviation community to the Coast Guard mission. From search and rescue, to migrant interdiction, to drug interdiction and maritime law enforcement, to maritime preservation and conservation aviation has a footprint on everything the Coast Guard does.
Earlier this year, as part of the culmination of celebrating 100 years of CG aviation, the Coast Guard Aviation Association donated a Coast Guard helicopter to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
In celebrating the innovation of Coast Guard aviation, pioneered by Coast Guard aviator number 1, Elmer Stone, and all who followed him, and all the lives saved in that pursuit, there was talk of those who weren’t rescued, and the toll that takes on Coast Guard members. With every celebration of a rescue, Coast Guard aviators keep close to them those they weren’t able to assist, and those who perished before help arrived.
All speakers reflected on the impact Coast Guard Foundation support has on Coast Guard members and their families, including that help that arrives when a tragedy occurs.
“I want to thank you for what you do for our United States Coast Guard,” said Admiral Zukunft. “We’ve got the best team assembled, but that wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Coast Guard Foundation.”
We were honored to have a significant number of Coast Guard aviators in the room, many who are now retired from the service but came to the event with their flight jackets and aviator sunglasses. Many in the crowd joined in the celebration and donned a pair of novelty aviators in tribute to those who serve.
The United States Coast Guard Band performed a patriotic medley and the military service songs in tribute to all who have worn the uniform. CGF board members Corrine Kosar and Thad Allen served as co-chairs for the event. CNN’s Kyra Phillips was the master of ceremonies.
Special recognition was given to the high-level sponsors, including special reception sponsor General Dynamics and its associated businesses, Bath Iron Works; Mission Systems and NASSCO; cocktail reception sponsor Huntington Ingalls industries; and dessert reception sponsor DMI. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corporation served as Shield of Freedom level supporters.