Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen received a new commanding officer Tuesday morning during the unit’s change of command ceremony at the base aircraft hangar in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
Captain Patricia A. McFetridge, Air Station Borinquen’s new Commanding Officer, assumed command of the Coast Guard’s only aviation unit in the Caribbean, which is responsible for conducting Coast Guard missions throughout the area, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Commanding an Air Station is an absolute dream come true for me and I am extremely humbled to have been selected for this rare opportunity,” said Captain McFetridge, Air Station Borinquen Commanding Officer. “I am excited to be back at Air Station Borinquen and in the beautiful Caribbean once again. I look forward to serving and supporting the men and women of the Air Station and our base community, and working with our partner Federal and Civil agencies in performing our vital missions in this region. I know there will be challenges to face, but I am confident that the professionalism and proficiency we all bring to bear will guarantee our success.”
Captain Robert D. Phillips Air Station Borinquen’s Commanding Officer since June 24, 2011, relinquished command of the unit and retired from the Coast Guard after completing 32 years of distinguished military service to the nation.
“It has been the highlight of my 32-year military career to serve and support the good men and women of Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen as their Commanding Officer,” said Captain Robert D. Phillips, outgoing Commanding Officer for Air Station Borinquen. “It has also been an honor to work with our Federal and Commonwealth partners. Together, we have served to enhance the safety and security of the region, educate our children, protect our environment, facilitate commerce, respond to disasters, and aid those in distress. As my wife and I transition into retirement, Puerto Rico and its vibrant people and culture, will always hold a fond place in our hearts. It has truly been my privilege to serve at ‘La Isla del Encanto’.”
A military unit’s change of command is a time honored tradition which encompasses the transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.
Captain McFetridge reports to Air Station Borinquen from her previous tour at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, where she served as the Project Manager of Rescue 21 and was responsible for managing a one billion dollar major Information Technology acquisition investment to modernize the National Distress and Response System. McFetridge is a military career aviator qualified in the A, B, and C models of the MH-65 “Dolphin” Short Range Rescue Helicopter and has also flown the 1500, 1600, and 1700 series of the HC-130 “Hercules” Maritime Patrol Airplane, and the HH-60 “Jayhawk” and HH-3 “Pelican” Medium Range Rescue Helicopters, as well as other Coast Guard fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
Air Station Borinquen operates four MH-65C “Dolphin” helicopters. Their missions include Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Alien Migration Interdiction Operations, and Homeland Security Patrols. So far in 2013, Air Station Borinquen has saved 52 lives, assisted 41 others, and interdicted over one million dollars worth of drugs and 130 illegal migrants.
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