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U.S. Coast Guard Oral History Program:
Hurricane Katrina

Katrina Archival & Historical Record Team (KART): Oral histories of Coast Guardsmen who participated in the Hurricane Katrina rescue & relief operations-


Aviation ForcesHH-60s rescuing survivors from a rooftop

Rescue Swimmers

AST3 Sara Faulkner: AST3 Faulkner flew four missions and conducted 52 hoists during Hurricane Katrina operations.

AST3 Joshua Mitcheltree: AST3 Mitcheltree appeared on "Good Morning America" in between rescuing survivors from rooftops.  He also spoke with the President on the phone and later met him in person.

Aircraft Mechanics - Hoist Operators

AMT1 William Brian Williams: AMT1 Williams, an HH-60 and HH-65 mechanic, had been at AIRSTA Cape Cod for less than a month when he volunteered for Katrina. On the first day out he was involved in rescuing 50 people. 

AMT2 Matthew Talton: AMT2 Talton, newly assigned to AIRSTA Cape Cod, also volunteered for Katrina.  His first hoist was at night near Biloxi, Mississippi soon after Katrina's passage and he then went on to flights over New Orleans.


LT Iain McConnell: LT McConnell was a pilot from Air Station Clearwater.  He and his crew conducted rescues on the first day, hoisting and saving 21 people.  

LT Rick Hipes: LT Hipes was an HH-60 pilot from Air Station San Diego.  He and his crew rescued 4 persons and also conducted numerous logistics and transportation flights.

Air Station Commanding Officers

CAPT Bruce Jones: CAPT Jones was the commanding officer of Air Station New Orleans.  He directed the largest aerial SAR operation in Coast Guard history. 

Air Station Personnel

EM2 Rodney Gordon: EM2 Gordon, assigned to AIRSTA New Orleans, was instrumental in restoring that station's fuel farm as well as the nearby Navy's fuel farms, thereby providing the fuel needed by the many helicopters, Coast Guard and others, that rescued thousands.

Surface Forces 


Operation Dunkirk -- "The Wild West" -- Evacuation by Tenders & Cutters

CWO3 Robert D. Lewald: CWO3 Lewald commanded CGC Pamlico and the small fleet of vessels that safely evacuated thousands from New Orleans in what was called Operation Dunkirk.  He dealt with armed gangs, desperate survivors and recalcitrant Navy officers and local law enforcement officials to ensure the safety of evacuating citizens.

BMCS Steven Noyes: BMCS Noyes, OIC of ANT Dulac and CG-55119, worked closely with CWO3 Lewald in Operation Dunkirk.  He and his crew, under the most difficult circumstances, through experience, persistence and ingenuity safely evacuated thousands of displaced citizens.

BM2 Ronald Mancuso: BM2 Mancuso was assigned to Station Grand Isle as was the coxswain of one of the 41-footers assigned to Operation Dunkirk.

CDR Robert Tarantino: CDR Tarantino, commanding officer of CGC Spencer, arrived in New Orleans shortly after Katrina's passage.  He was the on-scene commander for the surface forces in the area.

CDR Adam Shaw: CDR Shaw, a volunteer from D-11, served at Station New Orleans and worked with the rescue boat crews operating from that station.

Zephyr Field & Other Small Boat Rescue Operations

LCDR Daryl Schaffer: LCDR Schaffer was assigned to ISC New Orleans as the Personnel, Force Optimization & Training Branch Chief.  He led the first rescues from Zephyr Field the day after Katrina came ashore.  He then moved over to the Emergency Operations Center at Zeyphr Field to serve as unified commander.

LCDR Shannon Gilreath: LCDR Gilreath commanded the mixed-force that operated from Zephyr Field.  He and his crewmen saved and evacuated over 12,000, most using flood punts and small boats.

CWO Carter Owens: CWO Owens, assigned to ISC New Orleans, was the first Coast Guardsman to launch a boat from the I-10/610 split and then conducted SAR operations all day.  He then spent the next few days transporting evacuees to safety.

YN3 John Kubik: YN3 Kubik, from MSO St. Louis, served as a boat crewman with a DART operating from Zephyr Field.

Command & Control

Eighth Coast Guard District

CAPT Joe Castillo: CAPT Castillo was the Chief of Operations for the Eighth Coast Guard District.

Sector New Orleans

CAPT Frank Paskewich: CAPT Paskewich was the Sector Commander for the newly established Sector New Orleans.  

CAPT Robert Mueller: CAPT Mueller was the Deputy Sector Commander for the newly established Sector New Orleans. 

MSO Morgan City

CAPT Terry Gilbreath: CAPT Gilbreath, the Commanding Officer of MSO Morgan City, served as a Deputy Incident Commander in Alexandria.

Logistics & Support

Atlantic Area (LANTAREA)

CAPT Chris Colvin: CAPT Colvin was LANTAREA's Chief of Staff.

CAPT Bradley Jacobs: CAPT Jacobs was LANTAREA's Chief of Operational Forces.

CAPT Neil Buschman, USCG & CAPT Robert Teufel, USN: CAPT Buschman was the head of LANTAREA Operations and CAPT Teufel was the Branch Area Chief for Operations Management & Oversight.

CAPT Steve Taylor, CDR Dave Morgan & LCDR Ron Magoon: CAPT Taylor was LANTAREA's Aviation Force Manager; CDR Morgan was AOFA Staff--Air Assets; & LCDR Magoon served on the Aviation Staff as a Management Analyst.

CAPT Robert Nutting: CAPT Nutting was the Division Chief of the Command, Control, and Communications Division of LANTAREA.

CDR John Little & LCDR Ward Posey: CDR Little was the Chief of LANTAREA's Aids to Navigation Waterways Section and LCDR Posey was his Chief of Operations.

Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic (MLCLANT)

RADM Clifford Pearson: RADM Pearson was the Commander of the Maintenance & Logistics Command Atlantic.

CDR Donald LaChance & LCDR Steven Whitehead: CDR LaChance was MLCLANT's Logistics Officer & LCDR Whitehead was MLCLANT's Chief of Contingency Planning.

Maintenance & Logistics Command Pacific (MLCPAC)

CDR Kelly Kachele: CDR Kachele was the Chief of Logistics Division of MLCPAC.  During the Katrina relief operation she served as the Logistics Section Chief in Alexandria, LA. 

Integrated Support Command (ISC) New Orleans

CDR Patrick Flynn: CDR Flynn was the Executive Officer of ISC New Orleans and was instrumental in the logistics effort in support of Katrina operations.


PA1 Kyle Niemi: PA1 Niemi was a Public Affairs Specialist assigned to the Eighth District.  He flew on some of the first over-flights and continued to document the Coast Guard's response in the days following.

LTJG Amber Jack: LTJG Jack, who worked in the Preparedness Division of the National Strike Force, served as a Staging Area Manager for Station Pascagoula.

LTJG Loraleigh Whiteside: LTJG Whiteside was the Planning Officer, Administrative Officer & Assistant Operations Officer for MSST 31104, Galveston.  

Marine Safety & Environmental Responders


National Strike Force

CDR Meredith Austin: CDR Austin commanded the National Strike Force.

Last Modified 1/12/2016