Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans has change of command
When Rear Adm. Roy Nash welcomed Cmdr. Michael Brandhuber back to the New Orleans area Friday, he reminded the Coast Guard helicopter pilot of what’s ahead: Thickening Southern humidity and a tropical system lurking in the Gulf of Mexico. “You know it’s summer, so just get used to it,” Nash told Brandhuber during a command change ceremony in the Coast Guard’s hangar in Belle Chasse.
Brandhuber became the 27th commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, replacing Cmdr. Frederick Riedlin. Brandhuber will lead about 120 men and women who fly and maintain MH-65C Dolphins, the sleek orange helicopters seen buzzing over Mardi Gras parade routes and are welcomed by mariners, fishers or oil rig workers in distress.
A decorated helicopter pilot, Brandhuber’s last post was executive officer of Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J. He served in the New Orleans area from 2002 to 2004.
He now commands an aviation operation with a $1.7 million budget and a $26 million physical plant that, under Riedlin’s command, helped save 248 lives and logged 504 search-and-rescue flights. The Coast Guard regards it as one of its busiest air stations, whose area of responsibility extends from Memphis, Tenn., to 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana’s border with Texas.
“This air station has a terrific reputation and has made a difference in the lives of men and women who work on the water, who recreate on the water,” said Nash, commander of the 8th Coast Guard District.
Riedlin took over in July 2010, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion while the uncapped wellhead still gushed oil. He said the air station grew to nine helicopters, whose air crews flew missions in support of the response.
“I knew that I landed at an air station that matters,” he said, describing the region as a hotbed for Coast Guard missions. “New Orleans is at the front lines.”
Riedlin, who was awarded his third Meritorious Service Medal on Friday and will be promoted to captain, moves to Washington, D.C., to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University. He spoke highly of the air station personnel he leaves behind — and of New Orleans.
“It’s a treasure and a jewel that people don’t understand until they live here,” Riedlin said.
Paul Purpura can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3791.
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