As the Gulf Coast braces for another potentially active hurricane season, local Coast Guard members are being honored for stepping up during last year's devastating storms. They were on the front lines for Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Friday afternoon, they were awarded at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile.
Last year's busy hurricane season put Coast Guard members to the test. Some from ATC Mobile, were among the first sent out. Meanwhile, the training center here also became a busy hub for other relief efforts, like collecting and transporting supplies. The busiest, during Hurricane Harvey; it was all hands on deck when the storm hit about 450 miles away in Houston.
From crucial repairs, to daring rescues...the devastation demanded dedication. And on Friday, 80 men and women from ATC Mobile were awarded for that dedication, almost a year after their heroic missions.
Lt. Daniel Feirman piloted a plane for 12-hours through violent winds, as Harvey slammed Houston, earning him the Coast Guard Air Medal.
"There is nothing else I'd rather do with my life...I've actually been a military aviator for close to 18 years, and it was by far my most challenging and my most rewarding flight."
Like Lt. Feirman, the other Coast Guard awardees all played a key part of saving hundreds of lives, not just during Hurricane Harvey, but also during Irma, and Maria. All three major hurricanes slammed the US within a month.
Rena Glass from Mobile came to see her son-in-law get his award for working logistics during Irma.
"Their job is very dangerous, but again, they save lives, they're behind the scenes, but they're there, and we're very proud," said Glass.
With awards in hand, they can now relive some of their most challenging missions, and have the recognition to show for it.
"It was kind of like an ant hill had been kicked but everyone was going with a purpose, we knew where we were going, we knew what we had to do, we knew we were prepared, and we knew what the American people needed, and they went and did it," said Commanding Officer of ATC, Cpt. Bill Sasser.
Every aviation position in the Coast Guard is trained the same way at ATC Mobile, so in times of crisis, crew members from all over the country can work together seamlessly.
Another award ceremony is planned for August.