1963 – Coast Guard Air Station Houston Established
L/R AT1 Nielson, CAPT Shrode USCG, LT. Gen Stafford, CAPT Schirra
Coast Guard Air Station Houston was commissioned 23 December 1963. Located on one acre at Ellington AFB, 17 miles SE of downtown Houston Texas. Two HH-52 helicopters, seven officer/pilots, and 18 enlisted mechanics/aircrewmen set up shop in a 24,000 square foot hangar built in 1942. An alternative site at Scholes Field, Galveston Texas, was considered up until the actual commissioning at Ellington. The establishment of the air station coincided with the blossoming of the NASA complex then called the Manned Spacecraft Center. The air station routinely participated in the hoist training program for the astronauts as they participated in egress drills from space capsules in the Gulf of Mexico.
A third helicopter was added in 1974 and a fourth in 1978. In 1989 the first of the HH-65 helicopters arrived. Ellington AFB was closed and formally turned over to the city of Houston and renamed Ellington field. A decision was made to build a new Coast Guard hangar at the north end of Ellington Field. In 2008, Air Station Houston operated with just under100 enlisted personnel, 18 officers, and three MH-65C helicopters. The large number of recreational boaters, enormous off-shore oil industry, weekly cruise ship activity, and frequent storms, ensure that Search and Rescue (SAR) is a large part of the Air Station’s day-to-day operations. In 2008, Air Station personnel were directly responsible for saving 103 lives—including 59 over a period of just two days during hurricane Ike. In addition to SAR, the unit is also heavily involved in Port and Waterways Coastal Security, Law Enforcement, Marine Environmental Protection, and Presidential Security. The Air Station Helicopters deploy upon Coast Guard cutters in the Gulf region and during a six month period in 1997 a helicopter and crew were deployed on USCG LEGARE (WMEC 912) for the first operational deployment of a 270 foot Coast Guard Cutter to the Department of Defense sponsored Baltic Sea operations.