Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Recognized By President Trump
Coast Guard Jason Kucera, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi
April 10, 2018
Troy Ramsdell, a native of Lindale, California, is not a
household name, but his name is familiar to the Commander-in-Chief
Shortly after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in
August, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi sent AST2 Ramsdell,
and many of its ASTs, to Houston to help with search and rescue
According to Ramsdell, he was only one rescue
swimmer among so many pulling families off of their roof tops or
pulling individuals from windows of their homes. He said he did not
count how many people he personally was able to help, but knows that
look of relief someone has once they are in safer hands.
Becoming a “rescue swimmer takes going through rigorous training and
is not an easy task according to Ramsdell.
“They really just
‘kick your butt’ throughout the course,” he said. “I worked out with
a swimmer shop in Astoria, Oregon, for 16 weeks before going to our
‘A’ School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, for another 18 weeks.”
Ramsdell said it was stressful and physically demanding.
“We had a lot of tests, it’s very fast paced, and they’re pushing
everyone to their limits. Early on, I was struggling to pass some of
the tests so as I managed to progress I nearly had to be perfect in
order to graduate.”
Ramsdell attributes the rigorous training
from the school and the constant training he participates in now
with the Sector CC Air Station AST team as what gives him, and his
teammates, the ability to perform under the pressure of rescuing
lives in some of the most dire of situations.
assignment as an AST was at Air Station Detroit where the challenge
of SAR missions differed due to climate.
“We rescued a lot of
duck hunters who became stranded due to heavy ice and snow during
the winter,” Ramsdell said. “During the summer time, we had a lot of
cases of boaters becoming stranded on the lakes as well, but I would
take working in warm weather over the cold any time.”
½ years stationed in Detroit, he arrived in Corpus Christi July
“The mission is definitely different here, which every
case is different, but here we are rescuing a lot of people from
shrimping vessels that are stranded at sea or boat wrecks, and then
of course dealing with hurricane season is a great challenge.”
Being critical to the Coast Guard’s SAR mission, one of the
obstacles of a Category 4 hurricane bearing down on your residence
said Ramsdell, a native of Lindale, California, was being able to
evacuate his family while also being ready to answer the call to
rescue in a moment’s notice.
“We were notified by our command
we would be evacuating the air station to another location, so in
between leaving for that I had to prepare my home and evacuate my
“The next morning I departed for Edinburg, Texas,”
where the Sector briefly relocated and responded to calls for help
while Harvey came ashore to Corpus Christi, he said. “We then
re-staged in Alice, Texas, as the hurricane began to push up the
coastline towards Houston.”
Ramsdell said it was impressive
because this was a staging area for USCG aircraft from all over the
country that were coming in to support SAR operations.
“There were so many crews from all over, including San Diego,
California; Mobile, Alabama; Miami, Florida; and of course Corpus
“After returning to Corpus briefly, I worked a case
(SAR) that actually involved a capsized Coast Guard boat, and
thankfully all of the crew was ok with the help of the Army Corps of
Engineers and our team getting to them quickly,” he said. “Then I
was able to spend the night at my house finally before being woken
up by my chief the next morning who greeted me by asking if I wanted
to meet the President.
“I really wasn’t sure if he was
serious, but my chief said the President had called and said he
wanted to meet me.”
A particular photo that became “viral”
circulated of Ramsdell holding an infant child in his lap while
aboard a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter. The photo caught the attention of
President Trump, who then asked to meet Ramsdell personally on his
trip to visit the Houston area in early September.
U.S. Coast Guard AST2 Troy
Ramsdell holding the female infant during a transport flight
in Houston, Texas during August 2017 that caught the eye of
President Donald Trump and resulted in meeting President
Trump. The image on the right shows Troy Ramsdell on another
assignment during 2017. (Image created by USA Patriotism!
from photos provided by U.S. Coast Guard AST2 Troy Ramsdell)
“That was pretty wild,” Ramsdell said. “I felt very honored to be
recognized by name and to meet the President.”
able to take his wife with him, which was a whirlwind of a trip that
by the end of he was back at the air station conducting maintenance
on the station’s aircraft.
Ramsdell said he also rescued a
lot of infants while in Houston but this particular baby was being
transported under duress from one hospital to another.
baby girl had sickle cell anemia, I believe,” he said. “The doctors
told me that she could not be off the machines they had her hooked
up to or she might die.
“So as soon as we got her on the
helo and took off, I had to begin suctioning her airway so she would
not drown in her own fluids.”
Along the way, while Ramsdell
was checking the baby’s mouth and nose for saliva build-up, his
flight mechanic snapped a photo that has now been circulated across
the internet with millions of views across news sites and social
He said he does not have any social media
accounts, but it was not long until friends and family started
calling and messaging him telling him about the photo they
recognized him in.
He said during the SAR operations
throughout Harvey, including observing the damage to area
communities Rockport, Port Aransas, and Aransas Pass, it never felt
overwhelming because he knew this is what he is trained for; to help
those in need.
Ramsdell said the team is always ready every
day and that, “you never come to work expecting a relaxing day. When
people need the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard shows up.”
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