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Muscatine area native receives Coast Guard Achievement Award

Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In October, Muscatine area native and Coast Guard Aviation Maintenance Technician First Class Joshua Gaeta received a Coast Guard Achievement Award for a recent rescue mission he participated in. A 15 year veteran of the Coast Guard, Gaeta has distinguished himself multiple times and helped rescue numerous people.

About 15 years ago while living in Cedar Rapids, Gaeta did not feel certain about what career to pursue. One evening, while watching the first episode of “The Deadliest Catch” with his now wife, he saw the Coast Guard in action and immediately felt intrigued. “The rest was history–I always said I wanted to be on that show,” he remembers.

After joining the Coast Guard, Gaeta got to do that and more. After completing his basic training in La Push, Washington, and his aviation maintenance technician training in North Carolina, Gaeta got his first official placement in Kodiak, Alaska. While there, Gaeta’s unit participated in the filming of “The Deadliest Catch’s” opening montage. Gaeta would go on to serve in Jacksonville, Florida, where he assisted with drug interception missions in Central and South America; Detroit, Michigan; Atlantic City, New Jersey; and now Cape Cod, Massachusetts. During his service, Gaeta has also helped with rescue and repair efforts following hurricanes. In 2018, he received his first Coast Guard Achievement Award.

In March, Gaeta participated in a mission to help save 31 fishermen from the Atlantic Destiny, a Canadian fishing vessel that had caught fire and started sinking 200 miles away from shore in dangerously cold temperatures with hurricane force winds. For this mission, Gaeta helped with operations on the helicopter, gathering vital information to communicate with the five aircraft and two ground bases responding to the emergency as others pulled the fishermen to safety. Though Gaeta has helped with numerous rescues, he felt missions of this magnitude only come up about once every 10 years. For his important role in this rescue, Gaeta earned his second Coast Guard Achievement Award, which he received in October.

Reflecting on the experience, Gaeta felt honored that he helped so many people get to safety. “Any time you get to save someone is a pretty special feeling,” he reflected, adding that in all of the rescues he had ever performed he most valued helping get loved ones back to their anxious family and friends.

Looking back over his 15 year career, Gaeta appreciated the chances he has had to get to know the many different people he has worked with or rescued, the chances he had to travel, and the experiences outside of his home state. As a small town native, he considered, “getting to travel in the States and in North and South America and seeing things others only read about in books or see in movies,” some of the highlights of his career outside of helping others in life-threatening situations.

He encourages young people looking for a meaningful career to consider joining the Coast Guard, just as he did. “It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs,” he emphasized.

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