Ceremony honors offshore crew and first-respondersApr 28th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Crewmembers of the Damon B. Bankston were honored at a Coast Guard Ceremony held on April 15 at the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, for their rescue efforts during last year’s explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The Bankston was the offshore supply ship stationed near the Deepwater Horizon.
Eleven men died in the initial explosion on the offshore oilrig, but the efforts of the first responders, including the crew of the Bankston, resulted in the rescue of 115 survivors April 20, 2010.
The ceremony honorees included Captain Alwin Landry, Chief Engineers Anthony Gervasio and Gary LeBlanc, Qualified Members of Engineering Billy Marsh, Elton Johnson, Louis Longlois, Seamen Gerome Vaughn, Jonathan S. Escala, and John Logan, Third Mates Jeffery Malcolm and Paul Ericson, Master Norman Logsdon, and Cook Kenneth Bounds. All the men were presented with a citation for their valor and life saving efforts from the U.S. Coast Guard.
On hand for the presentation were Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, the Vice Commandant for the U.S. Coast Guard; Vice Admiral Robert Parker, Commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area; and Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District.
“No one could have anticipated this event,” Rear Admiral Landry said in her introduction. “There was nothing routine about these efforts.”
“None of us could have ever imagined how inexplicably our lives would be linked,” Vice Admiral Brice-O’Hara said in her presentation. “It’s important that we take the time [and] focus on what was achieved that tragic night, the twentieth of April.”
Capt. James Landry was presented with his own Certificate of Valor, and expressed his thanks to his entire crew and to the Coast Guard teams.
“115 survivors escaped the inferno,” Capt. Landry said. But soon after the initial explosion, Landry could see the Coast Guard crews in the helicopters. “They came in low and steady, one after another…with supplies and [provided] necessary evac.”
Landry looked at the Coast Guard members sitting before him, all of whom were present that night in 2010.
“Thank you for you service to your country and maritime community,” Capt. Landry said.
The Vice Admiral also honored those Coast Guard crews first on the scene with the pilots and rescue swimmers who lifted many critically injured and burned victims from the area, and also set up refueling procedures, assisted with establishing communication, and gradually brought a chaotic situation to order.
“Many would say they were just doing their jobs,” Vice Admiral Brice-O’Hara said. “Whether or not it was your job to be ready or to be brave, your readiness and your bravery were there.”
Chief Petty Officer Peterson, a rescue swimmer with Coast Guard 6605, was in the first Guard unit to arrive and then remained on scene through those traumatic hours. He said that many of the men rescued were in a state of shock.
“When they told me how many people were down there, for a split second, I thought, ‘My God,’ but then my training kicked in,” Peterson said. “I don’t know how many my aircraft got. I stayed on the boat the whole night, just loading patients.”
Pilot Craig Muray was also one of the first on scene. Muray said that those who survived had followed proper protocol.
“The Deepwater Horizon crew had done their drills and donned their life vests,” Muray said, and that saved many lives.
Whether civilian or Guard, the actions of all who responded to the call that day, as the certificates and plaques handed out said, showed true bravery in their unselfish actions and their valiant service, and are in line with the highest traditions of humanitarian service.