SACRAMENTO, Calif. – U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento received the United States Interdiction Coordinator Fixed Wing Aviation Award for superior performance in the interdiction of illicit drugs during 2011 at a ceremony August 20 at McClellan Airfield. R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, presented the award.
Aircrews operating Sacramento-based Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft provide advanced surveillance and tracking of drug trafficking vessels off the coasts of California, and the Caribbean and Easter Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America. In 2011 Air Station Sacramento crews flew nearly 2,000 hours on counternarcotics patrol resulting in the seizure of more than two tons of marijuana, approximately 4.5-tons of cocaine and the apprehension of 28 narco-terrorists.
The annual USIC awards recognize individuals and units that demonstrate exceptional innovation, tactics, aggressiveness and results. The nominations are reviewed by an interagency panel comprised of representatives from the interdiction community, so they reflect interagency peer recognition as well. The 2011 award is the third consecutive annual award for Air Station Sacramento for its superior effectiveness in counternarcotics operations among all Coast Guard fixed wing aviation units.
“All our federal and international partners play important roles in stemming the flow of illegal drugs, but the counter-narcotics work of our Sacramento-based long-range aircraft is an important mission that rarely receives much public attention,” said Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District. “With few long-range surface assets available for patrols in the Eastern Pacific, the role of our aviators in spotting and tracking smuggling vessels is more important than ever. This award makes it clear that the law enforcement work of the men and women at Air Station Sacramento is extraordinarily vital and successful.”
Captain Michael J. Eagle, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, received the award on behalf of the crew whose operational successes qualified the unit for such a prestigious award. In addition to counter-drug patrols, the air station also conducts search and rescue missions, disaster relief operations, environmental protection flights, and other support services.