Coast Guard Auxiliary training team reaches a milestone

Division 12 Boat Helicopter / Fixed-Wing Support Training Team Los Angeles during the team’s 1,000th individual training hoist. Photo by Geli Harris

Division 12 Boat Helicopter / Fixed-Wing Support Training Team Los Angeles during the team’s 1,000th individual training hoist. Photo by Geli Harris

Story by Auxiliarist Julia Dye 

To effectively train its rotary wing air crews, the U.S. Coast Guard has always relied upon surface crews to provide support. This training, which involves hoisting from boats to improve proficiency in core rescue procedures, requires increasing involvement by surface support, so the Coast Guard turned to the Auxiliary for additional facilities and crews.

“It was evident that aviation needed a reliable, professional, and cost-effective means for securing the surface assets necessary to fulfill our training needs,” said Cmdr. Jeremy Smith, Sector San Diego’s aviation division operations officer. “Fortunately for Sector San Diego, we have a vibrant Coast Guard Auxiliary leaning forward to support their active duty counterparts wherever they can.”

For the last four years, the Auxiliary team has been tracking the number of individual hoists in which they’ve participated while conducting training missions with Air Station Los Angeles and Air Station Sector San Diego aircraft. And on Thursday July 25, 2013, 10:15 a.m., the Division 12 Santa Monica Bay Auxiliary Boat Helicopter/Fixed-Wing Support Training Team reached a milestone, participating in the 1,000th individual hoist with an aircraft.

The deck crew for this event was Robin Neuman and Jeff Pielet from Flotilla 12-4 Los Angeles, and Moe Macarow of Flotilla 12-7 Marina del Rey. Ron Miller of Flotilla 12-42 Santa Monica Bay was at the helm, and Gary Olson of Flotilla 12-5 Beach Cities was perched on the open bridge as the safety observer. Geli Harris and Mary Elsom, both from Flotilla 12-7, remained inside the cabin to document this event.

Coast Guard Auxiliary Helicopter Training Team Los Angeles aboard Ladyfish III during rescue swimmer drills.  Photo by Steve Lee

Coast Guard Auxiliary Helicopter Training Team Los Angeles aboard Ladyfish III during rescue swimmer drills. Photo by Auxiliarist Steve Lee

The 1,000th hoist was the first hoist with Air Station Sector San Diego helicopter 6041 that morning. When the San Diego crew was informed about the achievement, they congratulated the Auxiliarists, saying they were extremely pleased to have participated in this event and complementing them on their professionalism.

The Navigator, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Magazine, featured the team in its 2012 issue where Pielet talked about the high winds beneath the Jayhawk. “It’s like a mini hurricane that can knock your boat off course,” said Pielet, “or knock you off your feet if you’re not careful!”

As of July 25, the team has participated in 1,013 individual hoists and 207 patrol-ordered hoist training missions. During 2013, the team devoted more than 960 hours during 37 hoist training missions, which resulted in more than 830 hoist training hours with Air Station Los Angeles, and 131 hours with Air Station Sector San Diego. These long hours ensure the proficiency and qualifications of every aircraft crew — pilots, flight mechanics, and rescue swimmers — and allow Coast Guard assets normally used for hoist training to concentrate on other missions, surface training, and operations. 

Air Stations Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento depend on the team’s assistance to effectively train and qualify their air crews. It will always be a challenge to replicate real-life mission scenarios, but in Southern California, the training is always as real as the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary can make it.

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