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CHATHAM – The commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod visited Chatham last week to praise members of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla for their work in assisting in the training and readiness of rescue aircrews from the base.

Members of the Chatham Auxiliary routinely work with Coast Guard helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft crews to perfect the service’s capability to accurately deliver rescue and survival equipment to vessels in distress. Trained Auxiliary crewmembers work with flight personnel to pinpoint airdrop targets in Nantucket Sound and then retrieve the deployed equipment and return it to the Air Station to be used again in future lifesaving drills.

Captain Timothy Tobiasz told the Auxiliary members that they are “force multipliers” for the service’s lifesaving mission. “You invest your time and you invest a lot of resources to do these great missions for the Coast Guard,” he said. “The missions that you do allow us to allocate our resources to do other things – like this past summer when the hurricanes hit our country.

“While you were conducting missions for us up in this sector, we were able to forward deploy half of our Air Station down to places like Houston and New Orleans in support of storm relief,” Tobiasz said. “Without your help and without you doing the missions back here, we could not go to where we were needed,” Tobiasz told Flotilla members. “Your work is very important.”

Tobiasz was joined by Lieutenant Chris McKay, a Coast Guard fixed-wing pilot and operations specialist, and Petty Officer Second Class Meagan Bragg, an aviation maintenance technician and aircraft loadmaster. The aircrew members displayed various rescue and survival equipment – including liferafts, dewatering pumps, and survival supplies – that can be dropped by parachute to mariners in distress. Tobiasz said that the Coast Guard air operation at the air station includes three MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and three HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft. Air Station Cape Cod is responsible for air search and rescue and maritime patrol flight operations from the U.S.-Canadian border south to New Jersey. The air station, located in Bourne, is the only Coast Guard air facility in the Northeast.