Hall of Honor background and nomination guidelines

Rear Admiral Benjamin M. Chiswell

Rear Admiral Chiswell's vision of the use of airplanes in the Coast Guard led to meetings between aircraft builder Glenn Curtiss and Treasury Department authorities, from which the concept of Coast Guard Aviation was born.  In addition, he created the first operational Air Units and is rightfully regarded as the Father of Coast Guard Aviation.



Commander Elmer Stone

  Coast Guard Aviator #1, Commander Stone served as pilot aboard the NC-4 aircraft during the first transatlantic flight of any aircraft in 1919.  He set the world speed record for amphibious planes in 1934, and was a pioneer in the use of aircraft for rescue and patrol missions.



Captain Carl Christian Von Paulsen 

Designated Coast Guard Aviator #6 in 1920.  After Coast Guard Aviation was discontinued due to lack of congressional support, Captain Von Paulsen established a makeshift Air Station using borrowed planes to provide aerial surveillance for liquor smuggling interdiction.  His great success in this program led to reestablishment of Coast Guard Aviation.



Captain Frank Erickson 

Captain Erickson was designated Coast Guard Aviator #32 in 1935, and became Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot #1.  Captain Erickson flew on the first-ever helicopter life-saving mission and is internationally recognized for his pioneering of helicopter rescues, hydraulic hoist systems, and flight stabilization equipment.  Erickson Hall, where the Coast Guard's aircraft flight simulators are located in the Aviation Training Center, Mobile is named in his honor. 


Captain William Kossler 

As a member of the interagency board researching rotary wing aircraft, Captain Kossler persuaded military leaders to approve helicopter development by the armed forces.  Captain Kossler was designated Coast Guard Aviator #43 and is rightfully regarded as the driving force that brought the helicopter into military aviation.  



Captain Donald MacDiarmid 

Graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in 1929 and designated Coast Guard Aviator #59, Captain MacDiarmid became the recognized authority in open sea landings and ditchings in seaplanes, and procedures for maritime aviation search, rescue, and survival.  Captain MacDiarmid also commanded the first overseas Coast Guard Patrol squadron during World War II. 


Commander Stewart Graham 

Commander Graham was designated Coast Guard Aviator #114 in 1942 and Coast Guard Helicopter Pilot #2 in 1943.  He was the leading pilot in pioneering helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare tactics, and trained Navy pilots to conduct these critical missions.  Commander Graham was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Air Medals, and was commissioned a Knight of the Order of Leopold of Belgium for helicopter rescues. 

More on CDR Graham

Lieutenant Jack Rittichier 

Designated Coast Guard Aviator #997, Lieutenant Rittichier volunteered for an exchange tour with the Air Force and served as a helicopter rescue pilot in Viet Nam.  Lieutenant Rittichier was killed while attempting to rescue a downed airman in hostile territory on June 9th, 1968.  Lieutenant Rittichier was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart.  A hangar at Coast Guard Air Station Detroit is dedicated in his honor. 


More on Jack Rittichier from Coast Guard Historian
Oral History-Jack Rittichier's Rescues

The Aviation Maintenance Specialists
of World War II 

Commissioned from the enlisted ranks during World War II, this select group established the tradition of professionalism and competence that is the hallmark of today's maintenance and repair activity.  They set the standard for the exceptional level of safety and readiness of the Coast Guard's current Aviation Operations. 

Rear Admiral Norman B. Hall 

Shipmates with Commander Chiswell and Lieutenant Stone, both members of the Coast Guard Aviation Hall of Fame, Rear Admiral Hall was one of the pioneers of Coast Guard Aviation.  He was considered the Coast Guard's first Aviation Engineer and is recognized for his enduring contributions to Coast Guard Aviation. 



Lieutenant John A. Pritchard, Jr.


Radioman 1/C Benjamin A. Bottoms 

LT Pritchard, Coast Guard Aviator
#82, and Radioman 1/C Bottoms made the ultimate sacrifice while attempting to rescue the crew of an Army Air Corps B-17 on a Greenland icecap in 1942.




Commander Bruce E. Melnick 

Designated Coast Guard Aviator #1671 and Coast Guard Astronaut #1, Commander Melnick graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1972.  Following a tour at sea, then Navy Flight Training, he was designated as Coast Guard Aviator in 1974.  Commander Melnick was selected for the NASA astronaut program in 1987 and designated the first Coast Guardsman to fly in space.  He flew on Discovery in 1990 and Endeavor in 1992. 



Commander  Gilbert "Gib" Brown

Graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1956, Coast Guard Aviator #795, CDR Brown was the architect of the Coast Guard flight simulation training program.  Over a four year period, he sought funding, oversaw design, procurement, construction and implementation of the first full motion flight simulators in the country. The flight simulators were fully integrated with pilot training and revolutionized Coast Guard flight training by reducing training costs and significantly improving aviation safety. The Coast guard was the first service that authorized instrument ratings based strictly on simulator flight time.



LT Richard.V. Butchka
LCDR Joseph L. Crowe
LT Lance A. Eagan
LT Robert E. Long
LTJames M. Loomis
LT Roderick Martin III
LCDR Lonnie L. Mixon
LT James C. Quinn
LT Robert T. Ritchie
LT Jack C. Rittichier
LT Jack K. Stice

During the Vietnam conflict, these United States Coast Guard Aviators voluntarily served with high honor and distinction with the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery forces in Southeast Asia in the dual role of aircraft commanders and instructor pilots. They regularly risked their lives flying into harms way to save airmen in peril of death or capture. Their significant contributions and exceptional performance were highly commended by the Air Force with the award of four Sliver Stars, sixteen Distinguished Flying Crosses, and eighty-six Air Medals in addition to many other recognitions. They carried out their noble mission with heroism and a focus on duty, honor, country and the Coast guard. Their actions brought honor on themselves, the United States of America, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard.


Berry imageChief Machinist's Mate Berry was one of the world's first helicopter maintenance specialists. A distinguished expert mechanic on original Coast Guard aircraft including landplanes and seaplanes as well as helicopters, he was lead instructor at the very first United States military helicopter training unit. He contributed significantly to a 1946 world renowned rescue of airliner crash victims in Newfoundland which required the rapid dismantling, air transport and reassembly of vintage USCG helicopters. Of exemplary character, extraordinary technical knowledge, exceptional planning talent, and superior leadership traits, his untiring quest for excellence established the ensuing high standards characterizing Coast Guard aviation maintenance.


Farmer imageMaster Chief Petty Officer Farmer developed and implemented USCG Rescue Swimmer training and operational programs. Volunteering for and successfully completing the U.S. Navy Rescue Swimmer School, he then coordinated with the staff of the Coast Guard Commandant and assigned instructors to develop specific operational and safety procedures and equipment necessities reflecting unique Coast Guard mission requirements. His exemplary professional knowledge and capability, superior leadership and character traits, boundless energy and high performance standards were greatly responsible for a successful accelerated service-wide establishment of a highly effective and nationally acclaimed rescue program directly responsible for saving thousands of lives.

Commander Frank Lawlor Shelley

Then-LCDR Shelley exercised extraordinary leadership, management, and technical skills in development of operational flight and training procedures to test, acquire, and deploy the Sikorsky HH-52A helicopter. This aircraft established the primacy of the helicopter as a rescue vehicle, changing the face of Search and Rescue. As a graduate of Navy Test Pilot School, he used keen technical and interpersonal skills to complete the evaluation in only four months. All modifications were accepted by the manufacturer. During evaluation, LCDR Shelley applied turbine engine and translational lift characteristics of the helicopter to develop a pilot-controlled procedure to transition the helicopter from forward flight to a hover without visual reference to the sea surface. This “beep to a hover” maneuver subsequently saved countless lives. He was instrumental in the development of a new Coast Guard standardized training/transition policy leading to establishment of a Basic Operational Training Unit at Savannah and eventually Aviation Training Center Mobile. After acquisition of the first of 99 HH-52A helicopters in 1963, LCDR Shelley co-authored a plan for future operating locations to complete implementation of the Aviation Master Plan. In nearly 50 years thereafter, the only modifications were the decommissioning of one air station and consolidation of two others.

Lieutenant Commander August "Gus" Kleisch


Lieutenant Commander Kleisch was designated an Enlisted Aviation Pilot in 1935, and later, Coast Guard Aviator no. 109, after commissioning in 1942.  In 1943, he qualified as Coast Guard helicopter pilot no. 5, at Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn, NY, at Floyd Bennett field. 
In 1945, LCDR Kleisch pioneered the first use of a training helicopter to rescue seven crewmembers of a Canadian PBY aircraft, forced down in a remote area of Labrador, as well as delivering two medical officers to sustain survivors.   For his heroism and innovation, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Navy, and the Canadian Air Force Cross by Canada's prime minister.  
In September 1946, LCDR Kleisch was awarded the Air Medal, and was commissioned a Knight of the Belgian Order of Leopold, for the helicopter rescue of eight survivors of the Sabena airliner crash in Newfoundland.  Later in his career, he was awarded a second Air Medal for persisting in a helicopter search that resulted in saving the life of a teenage boy suffering from exposure. 
Throughout his Coast Guard career, LCDR Kleisch willingly accepted novel and dangerous missions, and demonstrated sound and superb airmanship in a large variety of seaplanes, landplanes, and helicopters, while saving numerous lives.  His courage, innovation, and dedication to duty, reflected great credit upon the U.S. Coast Guard in the international community, as well as among the U.S. Armed Forces.

Captain Daniel Christopher Burbank


Graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1985, with a BS in electrical engineering.  After a tour afloat, CAPT Burbank received his naval aviator wings in 1988, and was designated CG aviator no. 2672.  He served as the aeronautical engineering officer, search and rescue, and instructor pilot at three CG air stations, where he amassed over 3,500 flight hours, while flying more than 1,800 missions, including over 300 SAR cases, as an HH-3F and HH-60J pilot and aircraft commander.
In May 1996, then LCDR Burbank was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an astronaut candidate, and later was designated CG astronaut no. 2.  Before flying, he helped design a much needed avionics upgrade for the nation's space shuttle.  He served as mission specialist on STS-106 in 2000, which delivered more than three tons of equipment to help build the international space station.  In 2006, he again served as mission specialist on STS-115, and executed a seven hour space walk for maintenance on the ISS.
After leaving NASA in 2006, CAPT Burbank returned to the U.S. Coast Guard academy in 2007 as a professor, where he instructed cadets in several engineering disciplines.  After 24 years of coast guard service, CAPT Burbank retired in 2009 from active duty.
He then returned to NASA and the space program, participating in several ISS expedition missions, specifically ISS 29 and ISS 30, where he was the commander.  In total, CAPT Burbank spent over 248 days in space.
His medals include the Defense Superior Service Medal with one star, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, two CG Commendation Medals, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Space Flight Medal with three stars, and other recognitions.