COAST GUARD AIR STATION North Bend, Oregon., Aug. 4, 2015 – An Olympic-length triathlon swim is just under a mile -- 0.9 miles to be exact. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer completed a triathlon swim of a different nature and saved four lives July 21, 2015.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity, an aviation survival technician assigned here, swam a total of 0.99 miles, half of which was done while body towing grown adults to shore after their 52-foot commercial fishing vessel ran aground near Cape Blanco, Oregon. Harrity returned to the 57-degree water four times and pulled each fisherman about 250 yards to shore, where they were met by emergency medical services. Each of the fishermen were the same size or larger than the 6-foot, 175-pound Harrity.Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity, an aviation survival technician assigned to Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, rescued four people from a fishing vessel that ran aground in the early morning hours of July 21, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo “The rescue was definitely one of the most challenging I have ever done, and it was the first one for me at night,” said Harrity, a 27-year-old native of Jupiter, Florida. “My fellow aircrew members shined a spotlight down in my general direction, and the mast light from the fishing vessel lit up the life raft quite well. I also used the headlights from the emergency medical vehicles on shore to guide me into the beach.” After being dispatched by watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend, Harrity and his fellow aircrew members arrived on scene at 2:49 a.m. The call for help was received at 1:40 a.m., so when Harrity arrived at the side of their life raft, the fisherman had been floating alone in the Pacific Ocean for more than an hour.
Terrain Made Rescue a Challenge Harrity knew before leaving the helicopter that he was in for a long and taxing morning. “The flight down from North Bend was the most stressful event of the whole rescue,” said Harrity. “We flew into thick fog and strong wind, but because of the skill of the pilots I knew it would be okay. The knowledge of what was on the other end of our flight pushed us to keep going.” The air crew discussed the rescue plan and the weather conditions on the way from North Bend to Cape Blanco. “We knew going in that the wind and the severe downdrafts coming off the cliffs of Cape Blanco were going to be beyond the helicopter’s limitations and it would be too dangerous to hover and conduct hoisting operations,” said Harrity.
New York Army National Guard members Warrant Officer Meghan Polis, left, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Polis -- a daughter and dad flying duo who are both assigned to Company B 3rd Battalion 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion -- pose in front of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Fort Drum, New York, July 22, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan MonfilettoFORT DRUM, N.Y., July 30, 2015 – Army Warrant Officer Meghan Polis, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the New York National Guard, doesn’t remember it but she logged her first three hours of helicopter flight time when she was just 3 months old.
Her father -- New York Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen Polis -- and her mother were going to a barbecue in Albany. They lived on Long Island and they decided to make the trip north by air instead of driving. The flight school Stephen Polis worked for at the time as an instructor pilot allowed him to borrow a two-seat helicopter for the day. His wife held little Meghan to her chest and put cotton balls in the baby’s ears. And away the family went.
Sharing a Love of Flying Since then, dad and daughter, both from East Patchogue, New York, have shared a love of flying that extends into their military careers. On July 22, the two Army Guard aviators made their first flight together as pilots, during the 42nd Aviation Brigade’s annual training here. The two are UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, headquartered in Ronkonkoma, New York. They flew as pilot in command -- dad -- and pilot -- daughter -- on a morale flight for the mechanics, fuelers, supply people and other support personnel who keep the pilots of the 3-142nd in the air. The aircraft, Stephen said, was the same one he flew in 2008-2009 when the unit deployed to Iraq.
After almost three years of inactivity, the Air Force recertified the Viper Demo Team and chose Baker to be its sole pilot. "Craig always wanted to be a fighter pilot," said Lindsey Baker, Baker's wife of 10 years. "That, coupled with his desire to serve our country, drives what he does. He puts his all into everything that he is passionate about." From a young age, the Air Force Academy graduate said, he had an itch for the thrill to fly. Air Force Capt. Craig “Rocket” Baker, F-16 Viper Demo Team pilot, center left, stands for a photo with team members and Gen. Hawk Carlisle, center right, commander of Air Combat Command, during the Heritage Flight Certification and Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 28, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham"It's what I always wanted to do, and I've been fortunate enough along the way to have family from when I was a kid all the way through my Air Force career, support me along the way to allow what was a dream to become a reality," Baker said. Through the years, the Gray's Creek, North Carolina, native said, he sought the best way to become an Air Force pilot. "I started asking questions, because I really wanted to fly," he said. "Most of the pilot slots were given to the Air Force Academy, so at that point I set my sights on going there."
Senior Airman Vadim Poleanschi of the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron disassembles an individual protective armor in Southwest Asia, June 3, 2015. Poleanschi joined the Air Force after immigrating from the Republic of Moldova. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. WatsonSOUTHWEST ASIA: On Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet flag flew over the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time. People across the country took what jobs they could find, getting paid a fraction of what they made before, as the local currency became nearly worthless. The burden of the country’s uncertain direction weighed heavily on the backs of the people.
Senior Airman Vadim Poleanschi, a 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics specialist, felt the burden, whether he understood it or not. Poleanschi was born shortly after the Soviet Union fell apart, in a country called the Republic of Moldova, landlocked between Romania and Ukraine. He spent his childhood hungry, poor and facing an uncertain future. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, everyday items were expensive and difficult to afford for parts of the population. Education opportunities were limited, forcing many to forgo a better life because they could simply not afford it. “I saw my parents not eat enough so (my siblings and I) had enough to eat,” Poleanschi said. “I didn’t realize the full situation until later on, when I grew up.”
Moving to America To give Poleanschi every opportunity life could offer, his parents took the few belongings they had and left their home to chase the American dream and the promise of a better life for their children. “Imagine coming to a new country with nothing,” Poleanschi said. “We didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t know the language and didn’t know anyone.” Moving to America had its challenges for Poleanschi’s parents. The land of opportunity was plenty, but the language barrier was the largest hurdle to jump. Through perseverance, Poleanschi’s parents were able to find jobs to support their family. Poleanschi’s parents weren’t the only ones who struggled with the language barrier; he had a hard time communicating with other kids. “As a kid I constantly got into fights because of the things I said,” Poleanschi said. As time passed and various programs helped the Poleanschi family, living in America became easier and the American dream started to become a reality. Professional Progression When the time came, Poleanschi entered the labor pool.