Bondira is stationed at US Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and was presented with an Air Medal for his actions during the Hurricane Florence rescues in September 2018.
During the hurricane, Bondira was leading his MH-65D helicopter crew in the evacuation of a stroke victim when he noticed a man clinging to a tree in water. Bondira sent out the team’s rescue swimmer, who was knocked down by the raging water and unable to communicate with the crew. Due to Bondira’s expert airmanship, the swimmer was able to stabilise and float downstream to the victim.
When the helicopter was flying close to some trees, the cable connected to the swimmer got tangled in branches, but Bondira was able to manoeuvre the helicopter to untangle the line. He then completed the emergency pickup of the victim and the rescue swimmer.
A press release by the US Coast Guard said: “Bondira’s skill and actions during the response to Hurricane Florence saved two lives. Bravo Bondira!”