USCG Aircrew Receives Nation’s Highest Award for Heroism in Aviation

On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard recognized two SAR helicopter crewmembers with the nation’s highest award for heroism in aviation for their role in a high-stakes rescue during last year’s California wildfire season. 

Pilot Cmdr. Derek Schramel and rescue swimmer PO1 Graham McGinnis received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the same award first granted to pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh. Their crewmates, Lt.j.g. Adam Ownbey and PO3 Tyler Cook, received the Air Medal, a military award for heroic or meritorious service in flight. 

The medals were in recognition of their role in rescuing two injured firefighters who were unable to evacuate from a burning mountainside in California’s remote Trinity Alps Wilderness. On the night of September 5, 2019, the U. S. Forest Service asked for the Coast Guard’s assistance with the rescue of two injured firefighters.