Ethan McKenzie is a Coast Guard rescue swimmer stationed in Kodiak. Jumping out of a helicopter and rescuing people is the most visible part of the job, but McKenzie says there’s a lot more involved. Rescue swimmers are responsible for equipment maintenance, outfitting aircrew personnel with essential gear, and providing medical care. 

“I’m passionate about this job because I want to make a difference; I want to make an impact on someone’s life. Our motto is, ‘So others may live.’ The impact stems deeply, not just to the individual you’re helping, but you get to bring them back home to their family, you get to make the Coast Guard proud, you get to make yourself proud, your family’s proud of you. Whether you’re actually out there saving people’s lives, or you’re out there turning wrenches, or you’re out there being a lending hand for somebody, the job is a wonderful identity of somebody who’s able to make an impact. I’ve become extremely passionate about that, and I try to immerse myself in every aspect of aviation, in every aspect of the hangar, and just in being an aircrew member in general. I’m passionate about making an impact.”


Alexander Deedy formerly worked as the assistant editor and digital content manager for Alaska magazine.

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