Friday, December 17, 2010

Surface Tension: The cutter surface swimmer

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
Story and photos by Seaman Adam Stanton

When you think of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, the first thought that comes to mind is of a Coastie jumping out of a helicopter to pull someone to safety. But the Coast Guard has another kind of swimmer… the cutter surface swimmer.

The cutter surface swimmer program takes volunteer crewmembers with strong swimming skills and maritime knowledge and trains them in basic life-saving skills and recovery situations. The candidates go through a physical and written qualification process, where only the best qualified members are selected.

“The training builds you up to get you in the ocean. You learn in a controlled environment, and then, apply the training to a real life situation,” said Coast Guard Seaman Joshua Angelica, a cutter surface swimmer stationed aboard Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, homeported in Alameda, Calif.

All cutters have at least one qualified surface swimmer aboard whereas cutters with flight decks have a minimum of two cutter surface swimmers aboard while the cutter is underway. Because deploying a surface swimmer off a cutter comes with risks, a certified line tender, responsible for tending the swimmer’s line and maintaining communication through a series of hand signals, is partnered with every surface swimmer.

The program has a dual purpose; providing for the safety of the general public in distress and for the crew in the event there is a shipmate overboard. While rescuing someone in a small boat is the preferred recovery method for persons in the water, a surface swimmer can be an ideal asset especially in cases where survivors are fatigued, entangled or injured.

“Its an eye opener of how challenging the conditions are in the ocean and in rough seas,” said Angelica discussing the training he and his fellow swimmers do on the open ocean. “As a cutter surface swimmer, you think about that worse case scenario where a person can’t move and a small boat cant get to them in really rough seas, we need to be prepared for that.”

The rigid training schedule surface swimmers maintain prepares them for real-life situations where every second counts. When disaster strikes at sea, and a life is in peril, you can count on the Coast Guard’s cutter surface swimmers to be ready to respond.

USS Ronald Reagan Chiefs Help Out at Presidential Ranch

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Dean Lohmeyer, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

SANTA YNEZ, Calif. (NNS) -- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) chief petty officers participated in a community service project Dec. 10-12, at Rancho Del Cielo, the ranch once owned by the ship's namesake, former President Ronald Reagan.

More than 25 chief petty officers completed several maintenance projects to help the upkeep of the land. Ronald Reagan's chiefs have been helping out at the ranch since August 2006.

Event coordinator, Master Chief Electronics Technician Jim Ritch, said the event strengthened the already strong tie between the Ronald Reagan Ranch and the Ronald Reagan chief's mess.

"We did anything they asked us to do while we were there," said Ritch. "It's a huge property and there is so much to be done that we were just privileged to be there to help."

The chiefs cleared a fallen tree, trimmed low-hanging branches, split nearly 10 cords of firewood, built walking paths, cleared riding trails, raked algae and weeds from a lake, as well as numerous other projects.

"There was a lot of teamwork and camaraderie going on," said Chief Logistics Specialist Mario Moreno. "We saw what had to be done and we attacked it. We got the job done."

According to Andrew Coffin, vice president and director of the Reagan Ranch, the property is managed by the Young America's Foundation (YAF), a non-profit organization funded entirely by private donations from around the country by those who are committed to preserving Rancho Del Cielo and sharing the lessons of Ronald Reagan's life and ideas with today's youth. He said the assistance provided by the ship's chiefs was greater than any dollar value that could be associated with their labor.

"The work that the chiefs do is incredibly important." said Coffin. "When Ronald Reagan was president, countless government personnel worked on the ranch, including a battalion of Navy Seabees, who built roads and cleared trails. Today, we just have a single ranch manager on site. We work hard to be good stewards of the generous gifts that YAF supporters provide for the preservation of the ranch, and the work the chiefs from the USS Ronald Reagan do at the ranch helps us do exactly that."

Beyond the sheer amount of work done, Coffin said he was more impressed by the quality of the work.

"The work that the chiefs do is in a class by itself," said Coffin. "From the very first work weekend in 2006, they were committed to working hard and getting the job done. I can say without hesitation that these are the most productive days that we have at the ranch all year.

"I'm confident that President Reagan would be both humbled and proud by the work that these American heroes do to help preserve and protect his beloved ranch home," said Coffin.

Coffin's sentiments were shared by Ronald Reagan Ranch Manager George Thompson.

"Working with the chiefs this weekend was fantastic," said Thompson. "I always enjoy having the chiefs here. They always work hard, and they do a lot of work to help us out with our projects."

USS Ronald Reagan Command Master Chief Mark Rudes was proud yet humbled by the work done by the chiefs in his mess.

"It was humbling to see the chief's mess come together and do such a huge amount of work for no other reason than to leave our mark on our namesake's ranch," said Rudes. "Listening to the stories of the men who worked with Ronald Reagan was especially humbling. Knowing that these gentlemen actually worked with the president put everything in perspective."

The chiefs mess hopes to continue working with the Ranch and carry on this tradition in the years to come.

For more news from USS Ronald Reagan and the Ronald Reagan Strike Group, visit or visit the official USS Ronald Reagan Facebook page at!/pages/Coronado-CA/USS-Ronald-Reagan/212147332020?ref=ts&ajaxpipe=1&__a=24.

Face of Defense: Guardsman Has Complementary Dual Roles

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Lillian Chatwin
American Forces Press Service

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 16, 2010 – When he’s asked about the upcoming weather forecast, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Sterling Poulson switches to his "TV voice" to report, "It's 70 degrees outside and pretty nice!"

"People come in here five or six times a day wanting to know what the weather's going to be like," said Poulson, a weatherman for the nightly news on KUTV Channel 2 here and the public affairs noncommissioned officer in charge for the Utah Air National Guard state headquarters.

When prompted, Poulson made a few taps on his keyboard, looked at a bunch of multi-colored dotted lines on a map of the United States, and then presented a full weather report with the fervor of a veteran forecaster.

"Looks like snow Monday night and Tuesday morning, with another storm rolling in here on Wednesday,” he said. “It's going to get cold, cold, cold with temperatures in the 40s. Friday will be partly cloudy and a little warmer, with a high of 48. Looks like snow on Saturday, and temperatures probably won't climb out of the 30s this weekend.

"Summer is pretty much over," Poulson added with a chuckle. "There's going to be a storm about every four days, and it just keeps getting colder and colder."

That’s not what Air Force Lt. Col. Cecilia Nackowski, the chief of plans and programs, whose desk sits directly across from Poulson’s, wanted to hear. "Can you delay that?" she asked.

"For how long?" Poulson asked after only a short pause.

"Three weeks!" the colonel replied.

Poulson laughed. "In three weeks, you will have shoveled your driveway three more times," he said.

Poulson's roles as a TV weatherman in civilian life and a public affairs specialist with the Air Guard are complementary and have proven mutually beneficial, he said.

"Everything I learned about weather, I learned in the military," he said. "When I first went to Offutt Air Force Base [in Nebraska], I worked under Col. Robert Miller. He's the one who wrote 'the book' on severe weather forecasting, and I got to learn a lot from him. I soaked it up like a sponge.
It was like going to a seminar every day."

Poulson began his Air Force career right out of high school in 1969 as an aerospace ground equipment operator. He served in that capacity during a deployment to Vietnam for 13 months in 1970 and 1971.

In 1975, Poulson decided to retrain into weather forecasting in pursuit of a childhood fascination he gained after observing eight inches of rainfall within 24 hours. After training, he served as a severe storms forecaster in support of the Air Force Global Weather Center.

After 10 years of active-duty service, Poulson transitioned to reserve status in 1980 and was assigned to the weather detachment at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. He attended college at the University of Utah.

In 1984, he became a weather producer for KSL-TV. He started his long-running career as an anchorman, weather producer and meteorologist at KUTV in 1989.

Poulson has been a public affairs specialist with the Utah Air Guard since 2000. He writes his own scripts and acts as the master of ceremonies for most of the Utah Guard's major annual events, such as the Governor's Day parade and the Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day concerts. He has hosted several Minuteman and Hometown Hero Award ceremonies and narrated the history of the Utah Air National Guard in a DVD production titled "60 Years of Distinction."

"They call me the voice of the Guard," Poulson said with a smile. He attributes his ease at public speaking to his 21 years of experience being on camera at KUTV.

His employer is very supportive of the military and his role in the Guard, he said.

"The cool thing about my employment at 2News is I can give the Guard a little visibility," he said. "I can do live shots at the VA concert in uniform, and make sure we talk about the concert on TV. I can do public affairs spots and place public service announcements that let people know about the event."

Since his college days, Poulson has had a strong interest in music, and he founded Choral Arts Society of Utah in 1987. As the music director of this 100-voice choir, he has collaborated several times with the Utah Guard's 23rd Army Band for events such as the Armed Forces Day concert.

Poulson has been recognized in both his military and media careers. In 2008, he won a silver Utah Broadcaster Award for a television news story he covered in Morocco in support of the African Lion medical mission with the 151st Medical Group. He also received the 2010 Senior NCO of the Year award for the Utah Air National Guard. He’s scheduled to retire from the Guard in September.