CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Coast Guard presented more than 100 awards Tuesday to Air Station Clearwater crewmembers in Clearwater for their efforts during the 2017 hurricane season.
Air Station Clearwater crewmembers were awarded for saving lives and providing humanitarian aid through hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate.
Among the awards presented were two Air Medals, the Coast Guard's second highest award for aerial valor. Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew W. Silvious, an aviation survival technician, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jean A. Medina, an aviation maintenance technician, were honored for rescuing two people from a sailboat during Hurricane Irma.
On September 9, 2017, Silvious and Medina flew 420 miles aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter into 60-70 mph winds, rain, and near zero visibility at night. Due to the hurricane, there were no emergency landing or refueling options.
Medina operated the hoist and delivered Silvious to the water while fighting to keep the cable from entangling the sailboat or the people in the water. Silvious fought off winds, waves, and the pull of the helicopter to reach the boaters in distress. Despite all obstacles, the crew rescued the two boaters.
The rescue was only one of countless missions Air Station Clearwater crewmembers performed during the historic hurricane season. The air station's commanding officer, Capt. Ward Sandlin, praised the crew's accomplishments and said, "From the bottom of my heart, I could not be prouder."
Air Station Clearwater crewmembers maintain and operate HC-130 Hercules airplanes and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters for a multitude of missions under the direction of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area. The air station's area of operations includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean basin and the Bahamas.