My eighth-grade English teacher told me I should go into broadcasting. I was the editor of the school newspaper, my voice had just changed, and she saw real potential for me. Although I didn't take her advice, I've worked closely with the media as the Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at a busy Coast Guard Air Station. I loved working with them to help them tell our story. Below is some of the work that fits into the "media relations" or "public affairs" category.
Developed hoist-mounted videocamera
When I was the Public Affairs Officer at Air Station Elizabeth City, a great First Class Petty Officer came to me with an idea that had been shot down repeatedlly in the past: to record videos from a fixed camera on the helicopter. I immediately saw the value and made it my misson to work with him to see it through.
The video shows the first two-camera prototype system. We used a combination of off-the-shelf products and some simple fabrication to build something that worked.
Once we had one working hoist cam system and proved we could deliver in the compelling rescue footage, that all the news networks craved, a visionary Public Affairs Officer from the District Office provided funding to outfit all of the helos at the unit.
The first major rescue captured on the hoist camera we developed was the historic rescue of a family of four, including an 8-month-old baby from the Sailing Vessel Marine Flower II as they foundered over 400 miles east of Norfolk, Virginia,
Here's the video of the whole rescue. It's been used for years as an example for crew resource management training within the Coast Guard and for many other documentaries about this historic rescue.
The hoist-mounted videocamera was soon fielded to every helicopter in the Coast Guard. It is now taken for granted that when we do great things with a Coast Guard helo, there will be hoist camera footage to go with it. That footage has been a priceless tool in telling the Coast Guard story and generating public support for Coast Guard missions.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, an Air Station Elizabeth City crew captured dramatic footage of the rescue of 14 crewman from the HMS Bounty 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, NC.
Here's another example, from the Coast Guard's Top Ten Videos of 2008. At the 2:00 mark you'll see hoist camera footage of a logger rescue from near the Quillayute River in Washington. Skip ahead to the 6:00 mark to see the hoist cam video from a rescue 100 miles west of Adak, Alaska. At 8:37 there's another hoist camera perspective on another rescue off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. And at 11:48, a rescue of a pilot and a dog off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.
That's four of the top ten Coast Guard videos recorded by the hoist mounted video camera developed and implemented by AD1 Cedeno and me at Air Station Elizabeth City in 1994 through 1995.
Just for fun, here's the hoist camera footage from one of my rescues. This is the medical evacuation of an injured crewman from the fishing vessel Crystal Anne in 2004. Listening to it brings back wonderful memories of flying with true professionals.
Sailing Vessel Mirage Rescue
As the Public Affairs Officer, I worked with a great pilot and writer Tom Beard on an article in U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings about a hoist failure in the midst of a rescue case that caused the crew to leave the rescue swimmer behind in the water hundreds of miles offshore.
I provided him with the pictures from the article from screen grabs taken from the Hi 8 mm cameras I maintained for every rescue crew. Today we take for granted that aircrews fly with high quality cameras, and making screen grabs from video is trivia, but in 1994, this was a BIG DEAL.
Emergency Recovery Device
Following the rescue hoist failure in the sailing vessel Mirage rescue described above, we developed a portable hand-operated backup winch. As a student Aeronautical Engineer at Air Station Elizabeth City, I led the effort to evaluate the "Emergency Recovery Device" at Air Station Elizabeth City. I wrote the final report signed out by the Commanding Officer, then he and I traveled to Washington and I briefed the Coast Guard's Chief Engineer on the results. That's pretty heady stuff for a young LT. I briefed the Admiral and his staff using the actual device, a video, and a PowerPoint deck. I'm proud of how quickly we did the evaluation so we could refine the prototype and get it fielded so no H-60 would ever again leave a rescue swimmer behind.
Weekly Leader Podcast Guest
During the 2009 Coast Guard Innovation Expo, I was honored to participate in a roundtable hosted by my friend Peter Mello. I spoke about how we were using social media tools within the project. The audio is available for download or streaming at:
Air Station Elizabeth City Website
As the Public Affairs Officer, part of my world of work was managing external communications. This was the early days of the web, so having even a static site with history, photos, press releases, and contact information was an accomplishment. I decided to do it and did the work to ship it. I'm pretty sure this was the first web site for any Coast Guard Air Station. My work was replaced and updated many times since I created it, but I archived it at http://teamtaylor.org/ECG_WEB/ECGHOME.htm.
Press Releases -- 1995
Back in 1995, I one of the ways I spread the word about Coast Guard rescues in the local and national media was to write press releases and send them out by fax. It was kind of a big deal to have a fax modem on the home computer so I could do that marketing 24 x 7, on the same schedule we did the rescue work. I later posted those press releases on the web site and shared those links to generate interest in print and TV media for follow-on features about the rescues.
Master of Ceremonies for Acquisition Directorate Standup Ceremony
I was hand-picked by Assistant Commandant for Acquisitions to serve as the master of ceremonies for the historic creation of the Coast Guard's Acquisition Directorate.
Killian Senior High interview
Here's my explanation for joining the Coast Guard in the first place. I was interviewed by News Center 7 in Miami, Florida as the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Battalion Commander.