10 January 1967
From: Commanding Officer, USCG Detroit Air Station
To: Commandant (PS)
Via: (1) Ninth Coast Guard District Awards Board
(2) Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District (d)
Subj: LT. Jack C. RITTICHIER 60767, USCGR; recommendation of award for
Ref: (a) USCG Pers Man (CG 207) Chapter 9

1. On 29 November 1966, LT RITTICHIER was Co-pilot of a Coast Guard helicopter that transferred eight crewmen from the West German Motor Vessel NORDMEER, aground on Thunder Bay Island Shoal, Lake Huron to the CGC MACKINAW in severe weather conditions. Navigating the 150 miles to the scene and return therefrom and transfer of the eight crewmen using the rescue hoist in snow, icing, turbulence and strong winds was a most demanding operation. Upon completion of the mission, a review of the circumstances concerned indicated outstanding performance on the part of all members of the crew and in recognition of this outstanding performance of duty an award is in order. Paragraph 2. is a summary of the events of this mission.

2. A summary of the mission is as follows:

29 November 1966 - The West German M/V NORDMEER went aground on Thunder Bay Islands Shoals in Lake Huron on 20 November 1966, sent an SOS and was firing flares on the morning of 29 November 1966. The Captain of the vessel and seven (7) crew members were aboard for salvage operations. During the night of 28 November, the weather had deteriorated in the area with winds out of the North up to 50 kts., seas from the North at 15 ft., visibility 1/2 mile in snow and below freezing temperature. The CGC MACKINAW was directed to proceed and assist by Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District. Weather at Selfridge AFB and all reporting stations enroute was below instrument minimums due to low obscured ceilings and snow. At 1330R information was received that the M/V NORDMEER showed signs of breaking up and that all hatches were broken. Between 1330R and 1400R weather at Selfridge AFB and Saginaw showed signs of improving slightly. The decision was made to launch a helicopter as soon as possible so that arrival on scene would permit daylight removal of the crew if it was possible to get to the scene. At 1410R HH-52A CHNR 1415 departer for the scene. The 150 mile flight from Detroit Air Station to the M/V NORDMEER was conducted under weather conditions that severely tested the skill and courage of the crew.

From shortly after take-off, low ceilings and icing conditions forced the aircraft to fly only 300 ft. above the terrain in snow showers with visibility reduced to 1/2 mile at times. The final 80 miles of the route was flown in nearly continuous snow and light icing conditions at 200 ft. over Lake Huron utilizing the shine for navigation. After two hours and thirty-four minutes of demanding, low level flight and still encountering adverse weather conditions the helicopter located the M/V NORDMEER. The CGC MACKINAW was anchored in the vicinity having arrived on scene at 1530R and was attempting to pass a life raft to remove personnel from the M/V NORDMEER. At 1537R immediately upon arrival of CG1415 on scene, a portable UHF trans-receiver was lowered to the personnel on the forward deck of the NORDMEER and communications were established. The crew advised that they were stranded on the forward deck of the vessel with no power or heat and desired to be removed as soon as possible. CG1415 then hoisted four (4) crewmen for the NORDMEER and lowered them to the icy heaving deck of the MACKINAW. The remaining four (4) crewmen were transferred following the same procedure. At 1700R the transfer was completed. During transfer the weather on the scene was heavy snow, wind North at 40 knots with seas from the North at 15 ft. temperature 28ƒ F. At 1705R CG1415 departed the scene and again through adverse flight conditions proceeded to Wurthsmith AFB for refueling. Upon completion of refueling, with slight improvement in the weather, CG1415 proceeded to Detroit Air Station arriving at 1956R.

3. The transfer of eight crewmen in 22 minutes under severe weather conditions and only moments before the vessel broke athwartships and decks became awash, reflects the outstanding dedication, performance and coordination of the flight crew. The dedication and performance of the entire flight crew is considered well above that expected in the normal performance of duties and definitely is deserving of recognition.

4. In view of the outstanding service performed, it is recommended that LT. Jack. C. RITTICHIER 50767, USCGR be awarded the Air Medal. A proposed citation is enclosed for use if this recommendation is approved.

[signed J. W. Swanson]

Encl (1) Proposed Citation
(2) Memorandum Report
(3) GRUOFF Charlevoix MSG 291245Z NOV 66
(4) GRUOFF Charlevois MSG 291700Z NOV 66
(5) CGAS Detroit MSG 291920Z NOV 66
(7) CGAS Detroit MSG 292220Z NOV 66
(8) CCGDNINE MSG 292344Z NOV 66
(9) CGC MACKINAW 301800Z NOV 66

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