Leadership of Coast Guard Air Station Sitka changed hands Wednesday in a formal afternoon ceremony. Captain Edward Sandlin handed over command to Mark Vislay in the air station’s cavernous hanger, before an audience of 130 officers, enlisted and civilian personnel, friends and family — and a 64-foot Jayhawk helicopter.
Sandlin and his family are moving on to Alameda, California for his next assignment, where he will be Chief of Incident Management for the 11th Coast Guard District.
District 17 commander Rear Admiral Thomas Ostebo congratulated Sandlin for his work.
Ostebo: In the past two years, Air Station Sitka has flown missions across this great state in support of all Coast Guard operations — fisheries, law enforcement, maritime environmental protection, search and rescue — all of them. Captain Sandlin, your oversight, your steady hand on the controls of this command has been admirable.
Since May of 2012, Air Station Sitka crews have racked up 3,700 flight hours and saved 53 lives during 189 search and rescue operations, said the air station’s second in command, Chip Lewin.
Sandlin was also commended for keeping the air station running during the 2013 government shutdown. Sandlin, in turn, praised the station’s personnel.
Sandlin: You know we throw around words like safety, execution, excellence, honor, respect, devotion to duty, courage, fortitude…I have watched the men and women of Air Station Sitka live those words every day for the last two years.
Incoming commander Vislay arrives after serving as Operations Officer at the Air Station Kodiak. Vislay has served at Coast Guard bases in Alabama, California and Florida. He is moving to Sitka with his wife and two young children. As commander of Air Station Sitka, he is now responsible for operations over 180,000 square miles of land and water.