Captain Chip Lewin (r.) introduces Cmdr. Michael Frawley to his new command. It was a homecoming of sorts for Frawley, who served in Sitka in 2009-2011, and a bittersweet farewell for Lewin, who has served here for almost five consecutive years. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Captain Chip Lewin handed over the keys to Air Station Sitka and its three helicopters to his successor, Cmdr. Michael Frawley, in a change-of-command ceremony in the air station hangar on Thursday (6-28-18).

Downloadable audio.

National anthem

Lewin – Cmdr. Smith please call the Air Station to attention while I read my orders.
Smith – Aye, sir. Air Station, atten-shun!
Lewin – From: Commander, Coast Guard Personnel Command, Washington, D.C….

Captain Chip Lewin is the 21st individual to command Air Station Sitka, and this ceremony was bittersweet. Alaska takes the top aviators in the Coast Guard and Lewin had the rare privilege of serving two tours — almost 5 years — at the air station as executive officer and as commander.

Frawley and Lewin stand with Rear Admiral Matthew Bell, who has been in command of the 17th Coast Guard District (Alaska) for just over 7 weeks. Bell has served often in Alaska in his career, and knew how to put the crowd at ease. Speaking in front of Air Station Sitka’s enormous flag he quipped, “I feel like Patton.” (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Alaska commander, Rear Admiral Matthew Bell, told the assembled Coast Guard personnel and around 100 guests that Air Station Sitka’s service record was exemplary:

Bell — Under his leadership, the air station’s crew of 130 maintains three aircraft, covers more than 12,000 miles of isolated and rugged coastline, covers vast distances between fuel caches and adequate landing sites. Successfully prosecuted more than 274 search and rescue cases — which is half the number of those cases worked at Air Station Kodiak, which is supported by five times as many aircraft, and three times as many crew. Those sorties saved 342 people. Stop for a minute and think: It should make you and your crew very proud. 342 people saved.

In his remarks, Lewin demurred, and gave credit for the success of the Air Station to the people who run it. He’ll be reporting to New Orleans to serve as Chief of Incident Management for District 8.

He held back some tears as he thanked his family, and his wife Caldwell.

Lewin — Sitka will forever be a place in our hearts. I hope to see many of you again. We’ll be in New Orleans, and we’ll be back visiting here soon. Thank you all, and Semper Paratus. (Applause)

Lewin escorted Frawley among the ranks of his new command, and shook the hands of everyone present from the Air Station, the Marine Safety Detachment, and the Aids to Navigation Team.

Frawley kept his remarks brief, thanking his predecessor, and issuing his first order.

Frawley — Each place that Chip Lewin goes to gets better. This place looks fantastic, top to bottom. I feel like Lou Gehrig here, the luckiest man in the world, almost speechless — which is why I’m only going five seconds over the 30-second limit the admiral gave me on Monday. I’m just going to say: XO, all standing orders, regulations, and instructions remain in effect.

This is Frawley’s second tour in Sitka. He was the Engineering Officer and a pilot here from 2009-2011, and was most recently the Executive Officer at Air Station San Diego.

Retire the colors. And salute!


And after the colors were retired, concluding the noontime ceremony, it was time to hit the chow line at the reception.

Slideshow: Change of Command Ceremony, Air Station Sitka June 28, 2018