The mariners aboard the 79-foot schooner Barlovento were in trouble on June 19, 2021. The yacht was nearly 80 miles off the California-Oregon coast, disabled and taking on water in 20-foot seas.
In the churn, a crew member suffered a broken arm and possible head injury. With no hope of sailing to safe harbor in 60-mph winds, the six aboard reached for their radio, issuing a distress signal.
At 3:45 p.m., watchstanders with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay picked up the call and immediately dispatched the crew of MH-65 Dolphin CG6565, along with a C-27J Spartan aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, to the scene.
During a normal at-sea rescue, the short-range MH-65 helicopter's rescue swimmer, Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Spencer Manson, would have been lowered directly to the vessel, taking care to avoid masts and lines, and maneuver a basket to hoist out the injured crew member.
What transpired that day, however, was anything but normal. And on Tuesday, for the work he did that day, Manson will receive the Distinguished Flying Cross — the highest award behind the Medal of Honor given to aviators for an operation.
“This case was a great example of a successful, multi-unit effort and highlights the importance of standardized procedures. The careful coordination between the two helicopters with…