Coast Guard petty officer to be honored for rescuing F/A-18 pilot after crash

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The Meritorious Service Medal (Wikicommons)

Portsmouth, Va. – A Coast Guard petty officer will be honored Tuesday for heroic service while rescuing a downed pilot after a Navy F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex in April.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas A Beane, a canine handler assigned to the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) will recieve the Meritorious Service Medal at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads Northwest Annex.

The Meritorious Service Medal is a military award presented to members of the Armed Forces who distinguished themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States. It is the non-combat counterpart to the Bronze Star Medal.

“We are extremely proud of Petty Officer Beane,” said Coast Guard Capt. Gene Gray, Deployable Operations Group commander. “He is one of our many top performers in the deployable specialized forces, and his actions are a credit to the capability and adaptability our members. “

Beane was off-duty at lunch when the Navy F/A-18 plane crashed into the nearby Mayfair Mews apartment complex. He braved the thick smoke from the burning jet fuel to attempt to evacuate people from the burning buildings when he discovered the downed pilot. Beane and another good Samaritan triaged the downed pilot’s injuries, cut him free from his parachute and pulled him more than 300 feet to safety from the flames.

“We join the Coast Guard to make a difference and save lives,” said Beane. “The training we receive helps to override the fear, so you can try to help. The important thing is that none of the residents or aircrew were significantly hurt.”

At the same ceremony, the MSRT, as a unit, will be awarded the Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award for excellence in operational readiness.

“This award signifies MSRT’s excellence in boat operations,” Gray said. “In addition to deployments to the Presidential Inauguration and NATO summit, the continued readiness they maintained while deployed is a credit to proficiency and professionalism of MRST’s command and crew.”

Coast Guard boat force units receive this award for achieving an outstanding performance rating during a rigorous week-long inspection. The inspection examines the condition of the unit’s boats and equipment, rescue and survival systems, crew knowledge of standard operating procedures and parameters, training program and readiness, practical drills and exercises. MSRT exceeded the Coast Guard average in each category and attained one of the highest scores among deployable specialized force units.

While the Coast Guard maintains a high readiness posture, only 10-percent of shore-based boat force units are awarded the Kimball Award each year.

The award’s namesake, Sumner I. Kimball, was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878 to the post of General Superintendent of the U.S. Life-Saving Service which would later comprise a key component of the modern day Coast Guard. Kimball’s lofty standards laid a solid foundation and significantly contributed to the modern day Coast Guard’s reputation as life-saving responders.

The MSRT is a highly specialized resource with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics. Its members are trained to be a first responder to potential terrorist situations; deny terrorist acts; perform security actions against non-compliant actors; perform tactical facility entry and enforcement; participate in port level counterterrorism exercises; and educate other forces on Coast Guard counterterrorism procedures.

The MSRT is a component of the Deployable Operations Group. The DOG provides properly equipped, trained and organized Deployable Specialized Forces to Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and interagency operational and tactical commanders.

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