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HEROS: Rescue swimmer & pilot recognized for saving 78 in Hurricane Harvey

Capt. Thomas Cooper (right), commanding officer of USCG Air Station San Francisco, presents the Coast Guard Air Medal to PO2 Daniel Gossage (USCG)

PortandTerminal.com, November 2, 2019

The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded the Coast Guard Air Medal to rescue swimmer PO2 Daniel Gossage for helping to save 78 people during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

Hurricane Harvey

Two people hug on a flooded street in Houston, TX following Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall on Texas and Louisiana in August 2017, causing catastrophic flooding and many deaths. It is tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record

Daniel Gossage

Gossage (left) receiving Coast Guard Air medal

Gossage was a member of the first aircrew to arrive in Houston after the storm, and he logged more than 30 hours of flight time rescuing stranded residents from their homes, rooftops and from contaminated floodwaters. Among many other actions, he responded to a call from an industrial warehouse, helping to hoist 36 people who were stranded by rising floodwaters. Gossage triaged patients to ensure that people who needed medical assistance the most were taken to the hospital first.

“Today it felt really good to be presented the award for doing my job and serving the public in their time of need in emergency situations,” said Gossage.

Capt. Thomas Cooper, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, presents the Coast Guard Air Medal to Lt. Cmdr. Michael Dubinsky

An additional Air Medal was presented to Lt. Cmdr. Michael Dubinsky, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot stationed at Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, for rescuing two people from a sinking boat off Año Nuevo State Park on April 18.

MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

Dubinsky piloted an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter through thick fog with limited visibility and had to use VHF radio direction-finding equipment to locate the Never Say Never, a 57-foot Chris-Craft which was taking on water. 

The visibility deteriorated further during the time spent searching for the Never Say Never, and by the time the Dolphin crew was able to hoist both mariners from the boat, they were critically low on fuel. This forced them to make an emergency landing in the parking lot of the Sky View Flea Market in nearby Santa Cruz. They called in medical personnel to meet them at the site in order to treat one of the survivors, who reported chest pains. 

“It was very challenging on everyone in that aircraft,” said Dubinsky. “There was really no visual reference for us to be hovering on except the boat that was sinking. Everything else was a big gray picture for us.”

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