US Navy, July 07, 2013 - NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kegan E. Kay - Two pilots and an aircrewman from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51 were presented with awards for their rescue of five fishermen that were stranded off the coast of the Republic of the Philippines last fall.
The fishermen were spotted by the helicopter crew during a routine night-time flight operations, Oct. 23, 2012. After notification from the helicopter crew, nearby operating ships from the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group launched an immediate rescue effort.
“Our aircrewman found them and told us where to go and then we reported it to the ship,” said HSM-51 pilot Lt. Charles Nelson.
Aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and Arleigh Burke- class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) quickly transited to the location of the fishermen.
Nelson, Lt. Richard Gutierrez and Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) 2nd Class Stanislav Oros were presented the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel Bannish was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal from USS McCampbell Commanding Officer Cmdr. Thomas J. Dixon in a HSM-51 ready room at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
“We felt honored that we were the crew that got to do our job and showed how prepared the Navy made us,” said Nelson.
Lt. Cmdr. Matt Cole, the detachment officer in charge while aboard USS McCampbell, was also awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal during the award ceremony.
HSM-51 Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Loo also presented Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals to Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Jacob Zarich, Operations Specialist 1st Class William McMillan and Operations Specialist 1st Class Khary Brodie in recognition of their hard work and dedication during last year’s deployment.