PORT ANGELES — There’s a new commanding officer at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles.
Cmdr. M. Scott Jackson assumed command Friday from Capt. Mark Hiigel in a traditional ceremony at the base on Ediz Hook.
Jackson arrived in Port Angeles from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., where he served as a supply officer and MH-60T flight examiner.
Hiigel, who had been commanding officer at Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles since July 2016, was reassigned to serve as incident manager for the Coast Guard’s First District in Boston.
“Captain Hiigel, you’ve done a superb job with your team here, sir, and I’ll have some awfully large shoes to fill,” Jackson said during the ceremony.
“To the men and woman of Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, I am truly blessed and honored and humbled to be your new commanding officer. I promise you my very best.”
The ceremony is a time-honored tradition that ensures that all hands know of the shift in authority.
Rear Adm. David Throop, Coast Guard’s 13th District commander, presided over the change of command. The 13th District covers Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
Jackson became the 42nd commanding officer of the Port Angeles Coast Guard base.
“We’re each blessed to be part of a storied unit here that’s been known since 1935 for producing some of the Coast Guard’s absolute finest,” Jackson said.
“It is truly a dream to come here to be stationed here, and our family is excited to be here with you. I look forward to continuing our work, focusing on people, professionalism and partnerships.”
Command of the Port Angeles base has changed hands every two years since 2010. The unit had a new commander every three years from 1989 to 2010.
Hiigel was awarded a meritorious service medal for his command of the 120-member unit, which logged more than 3,200 flight hours, responded to 318 search and rescue cases and saved or assisted 90 lives under his watch.
Throop said Hiigel developed partnerships with local agencies and excelled at “taking care of his people.”
The 13th District commander also credited Hiigel for helping to coordinate the new facilities on Ediz Hook for Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor, which protects Navy ballistic missile submarines that transit the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Jackson served as 14th District (Hawaii) command center chief and search and rescue mission coordinator before he was transferred to North Carolina in 2014.
“My words to you are simple,” Throop told Jackson. “Take care of your people. These are the sons and daughters of America.”
The ceremony was attended by more than 150 civilians and Coast Guard personnel.
It was witnessed by Port Angeles Deputy Mayor Kate Dexter, City Council members Jim Moran and Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin and police Chief Brian Smith.
Also attending were Clallam County Commissioner Bill Peach, Sheriff Bill Benedict and several State Patrol officers.
Port Angeles High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets presented the colors.
The national anthem was played on flute by Tana Hiigel, Mark Hiigel’s daughter.
Capt. Hiigel reflected on his time in Port Angeles, telling stories of a harrowing flight to Tatoosh Island in high winds and the Coast Guard’s role in apprehending a suspect who was sought by law enforcement on the West End.
Hiigel also was stationed in Port Angeles from 1998 to 2002.
“I was lucky enough to start my aviation career here in Port Angeles,” Hiigel said.
“What an honor it has been to bring all these many years back to full circle. Being here in Port Angeles as CO has added so many rich layers of enjoyment to me and my family.
“We truly are going to miss being around such a wonderful people.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].