Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak’s commanding officer bid farewell to his fellow service members Thursday during a change-of-command ceremony.
Capt. Bryan Dailey officially transferred command to Capt. Nathan Coulter, who once served as Air Station Kodiak’s operations officer and, later, executive officer from 2014 to 2017.
Dailey took command of Air Station Kodiak in June 2018 from Capt. Mark Morin. During his tour, he oversaw a command of nearly 400 service members and 15 helicopters and aircraft. He also coordinated a transition from the HC-130 Hercules plane to the HC-130J, which expanded Air Station Kodiak’s operational capabilities.
“It seems just like yesterday when I was up here as the new guy, and I looked out to the sea of people, with the exception of my wife, I didn’t know anyone here,” Dailey said. “Now there is a hangar full of people we consider friends.”
He noted that Kodiak’s leaders and community members “have helped us safely navigate the last year” and provide perspectives about the island.
“There were some tough times, but we persevered and here we are today,” Dailey said.
Dailey also oversaw operations from the start of the pandemic, including coordination of vaccine deliveries to remote villages.
“We have had a very interesting last three years,” Dailey said. “Lots of highs, a couple of lows. … I think COVID has licked the red stripes of everyone’s candy.”
However, he likened it to a game of poker where “we played the hand we were dealt and played it to the best of our abilities and won the game.”
He said some of those examples include the technician crews and pilots who successfully transitioned to the HC-130J aircraft, the MH-65 helicopter crews who operate on Coast Guard cutters with limited fuel, and those who conducted rescue operations such as the Dec. 31, 2019, sinking of the Scandies Rose.
Dailey acknowledged a whole cadre of groups and people for their support, from city and borough leaders, to officers under his command, to the Air Station’s chief’s mess, or group of chief petty officers.
“To the men and women of Air Station Kodiak, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives,” he said. “I’m proud of the things we’ve accomplished.”
According to Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, commander of Alaska Coast Guard District 17, Dailey’s next assignment will be as Coast Guard’s attaché to Russia.
“We’ve been very lucky to have him here for the last three years,” Moore said during the ceremony. “He has shown incredible foresight, fortitude and a can-do attitude in his leadership.”
Moore noted that Coast Guard District 17 relies heavily on Kodiak’s planes and helicopters for search and rescue and other operations in the southcentral, western and northern parts of the state.
“It is run rigorously and efficiently despite the harsh terrain and conditions and miles and miles of shore we have in Alaska,” Moore said.
“Without these aircrafts, the search and rescue, law enforcement and forward operating locations we have in place would not be possible.”
He noted that the tight coordination between other Coast Guard bases, as well as with local, state and federal agencies “requires the exact type of leadership Bryan has.”
Kodiak, Moore noted, “is top of the pile for operational acumen.”
He also praised Dailey’s leadership during the last 18 months under the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He has shown exemplary leadership even through that,” he said.
“If you overlay COVID-19 on top of everything else and all the requirements for social distancing, how to safely helicopters and planes for masking or unmasking and touching down in places that might not have restrictions in place … makes everything more challenging.”
Moore said Dailey’s “concern and care for his people’s safety and the people in the state of Alaska made that mission successful.”
The ceremony included an opening and closing prayer by Lt. Brenton Asbury, Coast Guard Base Kodiak’s chaplain, as well as inspection of Air Station Kodiak’s personnel, a routine procedure conducted during change of command.
Coulter takes over Air Station Kodiak after serving as chief of incident operations at Coast Guard District 13 in Seattle. Prior to that he served as commanding officer of Air Station Traverse City in Michigan.
“We had to go to war with District 13 over you,” Moore joked. “They liked you so much on their staff that they wanted to keep you.”
Moore added that Coulter “brings a wealth of knowledge” to Kodiak from his past experiences.
“We are looking forward to you continuing what Bryan put in place in terms of a tremendous operational culture and a real can-do attitude,” Moore said.
Coulter said he was looking forward to his new command and being in Kodiak.
“Your (the community’s) support to the Coast Guard, our people and their families cannot be overstated because it is critical to our success both operationally and as we integrate as part of this fantastic community,” Coulter said.
“Kodiak is an amazing place and over the last week I’ve had this overwhelming feeling of coming home and look forward to the challenges, relationships and friendships in coming years.”
Coulter said it was “impossible to put into words the level of admiration and respect” for the air station’s Coast Guard service members and families.
“You overcome obstacles with wisdom and grace and I look forward to serving with you and doing my best to continue what Capt. Dailey has cemented here to support your personal and professional development.”