BELLE CHASSE, La. — Nearly one year after an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and led to the nation's worst offshore oil spill, the Coast Guard honored a supply vessel's crew who helped rescue 115 survivors.
During a ceremony Friday at an air station in Belle Chasse, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara presented awards to nine crew members of the supply vessel Damon B. Bankston and about two dozen helicopter pilots, rescue swimmers and other Coast Guard personnel who responded to the April 20 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The awards include the Coast Guard's certificate of valor and distinguished public service award.
"We pay tribute to their readiness, to their quick thinking, to their expert ship handling," Brice-O'Hara said of the supply vessel's crew. "Today we honor you for your willingness to act. We recognize you for a job well done."
Alwin Landry, who commanded the Bankston on the night of the explosion, thanked the Coast Guard crews that flew in and tended to injured workers. Landry, who received the Coast Guard's certificate of valor, recalled the relief he felt when he spotted the first flashing light in the sky, signaling help had arrived. The Bankston was tethered to the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the blast.
The crowd observed a moment of silence for the 11 workers who died in the blast. Photographs of each victim adorned a poster in front of the stage.