Air Station Clearwater officially began in 1976 when the St. Petersburg Air Station was moved to the St. Petersburg/ Clearwater International Airport with the addition of four HC-130s airplanes. It became the Coast Guard’s largest air station in 1987 with the expansion of the drug interdiction mission, “Operations Bahamas, Turks, and Caicos” or OPBAT. This large ongoing mission resulted in the assignment of 12 HH-60J helicopters, the newest in the Coast Guard fleet, and boosted personnel strength. Three additional HC-130s were added at Air Station Clearwater to support the increased law enforcement efforts. The air station’s motto of “ANYTIME, ANYWHERE” accurately describes it’s pace of operations.
Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater has a rich history, and its operations have been at the heart of significant events in Florida and the Caribbean for many years. In the early 80s, its high operations tempo earned Clearwater two Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Coast Guard Unit Commendation. During this time the Air Station provided crucial support to the surface fleet during the Cuban boat lift. Shortly thereafter Clearwater answered the call to duty during operation URGENT FURY- the Grenada rescue mission, and was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for its efforts. Later that same year a second Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the Air Station for operation WAGON WHEEL, an international drug interdiction effort.
Perhaps the single most noteworthy mission for the Air Station came in 1986, during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Air Station crews responded immediately, the initial crew arriving on scene so quickly it had to stand off while the debris from the explosion continued to fall. In all, Clearwater flew 33 sorties on the Challenger mission and was awarded a Coast Guard Unit Commendation.
Air Station Clearwater operated in support of operation DESERT STORM. During the Haitian uprising in 1992, Clearwater crews evacuated American embassy personnel and transported U.S. Special Forces into Haiti. When south Florida and Louisiana were devastated by hurricane Andrew, Clearwater crews flew missions round the clock transporting hundreds of tons of badly needed supplies. Air Station crews launched at the height of the storm and pulled 62 people from the water in what was the busiest search and rescue day in the Air Station history. In the summer of 1994 air crews participated in a massive SAR effort which located and rescued 34,568 Cubans and 23,389 Haitian migrants from the waters of the Caribbean.
In renewed effort in the War on Drugs, and Clearwater responded as part of operations FRONTIER SHIELD, GULF SHIELD, AND FRONTIER LANCE. Those operations were aimed at stemming the flow of illegal drugs and migrants and spanned from the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean to the southern coastline of Texas. The Coast Guard set new records for both drug seizures and arrests. Time and time again Clearwater flights crews and support personnel have risen to the challenge of the momentous tasks which they are given, and they are justifiably proud of their long history of distinguished service to our nation.
This is a woven patch with no-backing, intended to be sewn onto clothing or other items.
Each patch measures 4″ (100mm) and comes packaged in an OPP bag enclosed USCG header card.