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Coast Guard Alaska Enlisted Coast Guardsmen of the Year announced


February 03, 2004
Tuesday - 12:40 am

Three Alaska-based Coast Guardsmen are named as Enlisted Persons of the Year. Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Michael T. Fletcher, of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, is the 2003 Alaska Coast Guardsman of the Year; Marine Science Technician 2nd Class Bryan Stachura, at the Marine Safety Office in Valdez, is the 2003 Reserve Alaska Coast Guardsman of the Year; and Avionics Electronics Technician 1st Class William J. Minik, at Air Station Sitka, is the 2003 Coast Guard's Seventeenth District Coast Guardsman of the Year.

Petty Officer Michael T. Fletcher, of Gray Court, S.C., was nominated by his command for his distinguished and outstanding performance in military leadership, dedication to self-improvement and unselfish service to the Coast Guard and local community. Fletcher


2003 Coast Guard's Seventeenth District Coast Guardsman of the Year
Avionics Electronics Technician First Class Petty Officer William J. Minik of Air Station Sitka.
(Official U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Lt. Doug Atkins, Air Station Sitka)
serves as a helicopter landing signal officer, a safety and law enforcement boarding team member, a small boat coxswain and an underway Officer of the Deck, in addition to his daily deck-force duties. Fletcher has also become an expert in marlinspike seamanship - a tradition that is fast becoming a lost art - and passed this skill on to junior members of the Alex Haley's crew. As a small boat coxswain he is responsible for navigating, piloting and the safe embarkation and debarkation of personnel during at-sea boardings. "Petty Officer Fletcher is an expert small boat handler and is often called upon for difficult missions in the small boat," according to Cmdr. Craig Lloyd, the commanding officer. "His ability to handle a boat at night or during rough weather makes him an invaluable asset to the Alex Haley."

Petty Officer Bryan Stachura was nominated by his command for his extraordinary range of contribution to the mission, to the local community and to his own professional development. Stachura was living in North Carolina when he was recalled to active duty August 2002, and volunteered to remain on active duty an additional 12 months beyond his obligated service. As a front-line reservist, Stachura serves as part of a security force to deter and interfere with possible terror attacks for vessels transiting Prince William Sound. Stachura is a popular speaker at the Valdez Elementary School's Kindergarten class, by providing fun boating safety presentation while decked out in Coast Guard survival gear. Always ready to assist persons in distress, Stachura and two shipmates were returning from an inspection trip to Fairbanks when they encountered two motorists stranded by extreme weather near Summit Lake. The three men attempted to move the stuck vehicle, but the wind chill was so severe that short periods outside a warm vehicle were painful. Stachura insisted that the husband and wife accompany the Coast Guard team to the next town, about 40 miles way. The family insists that the Coast Guardsmen saved their lives, as several other vehicles passed by without stopping to assist.

Petty Officer William J. Minik, of Woodstock Valley, Conn., and a 24-year Coast Guard veteran, was nominated by his command to receive this honor for his outstanding initiative, leadership and sustained exemplary performance throughout a wide range of duties. Tasked with supervising all maintenance activities on the HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter's electronics and electrical systems, Minik's efforts were pivotal in ensuring the availability of at least one helicopter 99.8% of the period. This allowed the air station to fly 1,321 aviation missions, prosecute 113 search and rescue missions that saved 74 lives, and transport over 50 tons of mission-essential cargo. Minik also assisted in resolving a myriad of flight and ground safety issues that included hangar safety zone markings, fire safety training and personal safety during cold weather operations. His work on investigating work-related mishaps resulted in Coast Guard-wide changes to helicopter maintenance procedures. Minik spent countless personal hours on unit morale projects to make living in a small community even more enjoyable. He volunteers with his son's Boy Scout troop, youth sporting teams, and with community programs such as the Sitkans Against Family Violence Community Shelter.

Fletcher and Stachura will receive their award at a banquet hosted by the Armed Forces YMCA during Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage. Fletcher's nomination package will also be submitted to the Coast Guard's Pacific Area Command in Alameda, Calif., to compete with others for nomination as 2003 Coast Guardsman of the Year. Minik's and Stachura's nomination package are forward to Coast Guard Headquarters for consideration as the Coast Guardsman of the Year and Reserve Coast Guardsman of the Year, respectively.



Source of News Release & photograph:

United States Coast Guard
Web Site


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