Aux rocks the air

 

Auxiliarists with Flotilla 4-8 conduct rescue basket training with a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Auxiliarists with Flotilla 4-8 conduct rescue basket training with a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Train and maintain is a phrase often associated with mundane tasks that need to get done to please supervisors. Despite the eye rolling and negative connotations associated with the phrase, Coast Guardsmen train for a reason. The Coast Guard is in the life-saving business, and in a business that is literally life or death, it’s paramount that Coast Guardsmen are able to operate like a well-oiled machine.

A great asset in the war against occupational stagnation is the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You’d be hard pressed to find a group of people more willing to help out.

For ten years, Walter Ybos, Flotilla 4-8 out of Slidell, La., has spent his well-earned retirement helping Coast Guardsmen keep their cutting edge.

“We do helicopter operations with Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans,” said Ybos. “We help them complete all the necessary training for their pilots and aircrews.”

Ybos and his fellow Auxiliarists provide a platform for the air station’s helicopter to practice basket drops and hoists. The Auxiliarist vessel also simulates various vessel movements to help the aircrew react to different situations on the water.

A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescue swimmer jumps out of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a training exercise Oct., 25, 2013.

A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescue swimmer jumps out of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter during a training exercise Oct., 25, 2013.

“They like working with the Auxiliary vessels because it’s more true to life,” said Ybos. “These are the type of boats the aircrews are going to be running into on cases. They like to see how they blow us around in the water and how we maneuver.”

On Ybos’ last outing with two fellow Auxiliarists, the seas were somewhat choppy and the winds were high, yet so were the Auxiliarists’ spirits. In the downtime they had before the helicopter arrived on scene, they talked about what most people talk about: football, family, politics; the normal everyday stuff casually tossed back and forth between friends.

When the helicopter arrived though, the Auxiliarists aboard Auxiliary vessel Thunder were all business. They moved with an authority and sureness of motion that spoke volumes not only of their professionalism, but also to how many times this crew had done this evolution in the past 10 years.

“We love going out there and helping the air station,” said Ybos. “It helps them and it helps us. It keeps us trained. On most days we just have a good time. We enjoy it.”

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