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CWO Michael Harding United States Coast Guard

CWO Michael Harding was born in Bridgeport Connecticut, graduated from Central High School and attended the University of Connecticut. He  served in the United States Coast Guard for over 30 years and retired at Guard Air Station San Francisco in 2006. His wife MCPO Katrenia Wilkerson also retired from the USCG in July of 2010 at Norfolk VA. He earned a  B.S. in Business Administration and management from Columbia and has been FAA Certified since 1981. Two of his four children also served in the Armed Forces. His daughter Amanda served with the US Army for 4 years and his son Joseph graduated  from the US Air force Academy and is currently serving as a C-17 pilot. CWO Harding has two other sons, Michael Jr. living in Connecticut and Richard who resides in Florida. He has been blessed with five grandchildren..

Circa 2002-
Here is a brief bio of my U.S. Coast Guard Career so far. It has been a blast. After graduating from Recruit Training at TRACEN Cape May in 1975, I attended Naval Air technical Training Center in Millington Tenn. for my initial aviation training, which consisted of Aviation Structural Mechanic School followed by Aviation Hydraulics School, Pneumatics School, Corrosion Control and Paint applications. I then reported to USCG Air Station Northbend, Oregon in 1976 and was introduced not only to my first Coast Guard aircraft but my first helicopter. They sent me to Sikorsky factory school in Stratford Ct. and then to AR&SC Elizabeth City, NC for some HH52A airframe and Powerplant training. I earned my wings flying with ex Vietnam era pilots and aircrew who after being discharged from the Army decided to try the Coast Guard. I have many fun memories, sea stories and friendships from that period of my career. These guys were the best, but absolutely crazy. I learned about the dangers of the job here first hand, earning my first Commendation Medal for a rescue. I transferred to Air Station Miami in 1978. Any one who knows Coast Guard Aviation knows that Miami was the busiest and the place to be if you wanted action, and I wanted action. I had the time of my life there, flying 42 deployments, busting drug smugglers, rescuing people in distress, and sadly witnessed shipmates die for the first time in my career during the crash of the 1376 at Opa Locka airport. I was one of the first responders to the Mariel Boatlift from Cuba in the early 80s. I sailed and flew into Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Curacao, Aruba, Cuba, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, etc. I stayed at out of the way exotic hotels such as the "Pieces of Eight" & "Out Island" and lavish resorts and Embassies. Miami was a blast. I learned my trade there. I salvaged and repaired aircraft from the sea and land. Once even in the Everglades. The guys in Miami played hard and they worked hard. We flew the amphibious HH52A "Seaguard" and the C131A lovingly nicknamed "Thunder Pigs" until they were replaced in 1985 with the HH65A "Dolphin and HU25A "Guardian". I attended some more schools along the way including the HH65A School at Aerospatiale in 1985, Advanced Composite Technologies at Chanute AFB and several more Composite Repair schools at Abarais in Sparks, Nevada. I stayed in Miami until 1988 when I decided to be closer to my dad who was ill in New England and I took a transfer to Cape May Air Station in 1988. In 1991 I transferred to TRACEN Cape May and became a Company Commander. I have a least a million sea stories from my time as a Company Commander at Cape May, but for now I will just say it was great. I met more great friends and I grew in areas I didn't expect and I even became a jock again. After advancing to Chief Petty Officer I did a second tour of duty at Cape May as a Company Commander. By the time I left there I had graduated over 2500 Recruits in 23 companies and had the opportunity to sail EAGLE twice with my recruits. The first time was from England to New London for 5 weeks and the second was from New London down south. Had I been born several centuries earlier I would have been a pirate for sure. What a fantastic ship. What an opportunity I was blessed with. I left with reluctance once again just as I had in Miami. In April of 1998 I transferred back to Cape May Air Station just in time to close the unit and open Air Station Atlantic City. Brooklyn Air Station and Cape May were closed and consolidated at Atlantic City. In 1999 I deployed to Kosovo with a HH65A helicopter assigned to the Navy's Sixth fleet. While in the Black Sea I was awakened one morning by some friends congratulating me about a message which had arrived promoting me to Senior Chief or Chief Warrant Officer. I decided to take the Chief Warrant Officer assignment so off I went in 2000 to Air Station Miami completing the circle and ending up almost where I began this time as the Aviation Maintenance Officer. I chose to keep my flight quals current and continued to fly picking up right where I left off it seemed, medivac'ing Cuban refugees from an island 50 miles offshore the second week I was back in Miami, and hand carrying a 15 year old Cuban refugee into the emergency room at Key West from our helicopter. After a short tour at Miami Air Station as the Helicopter Maintenance Officer I transferred to Air Station San Francisco in 2001 when the Maintenance Officer there retired. I am enjoying my time in San Francisco once more meeting new friends and having a ball. Cape May will always be a special place for me because of the many friends and memories. Please enjoy this web site. I promise as time goes by I will spend more time adding to it. In the meanwhile feel free to hang around and leave some stories. I am always glad to hear from my shipmates. God Bless you all. Michael Harding

Circa 2011: After retiring in 2006 we moved to Virginia for Kat's last tour of duty. After a few months of retirement bliss. I re-entered the workforce as an instructor at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Virginia. In March of 2007 I joined URS as a manager working at Elizabeth City overseeing  a hundred and fifty technicians performing depot level maintenance on HH60 helicopters and HU25 Falcon Jets. In 2008 I was promoted to URS Site Supervisor for the entire USCG ALC at Elizabeth City NC. (This is starting to sound like a resume:) I enjoyed getting  involved with CG aviation again and working on projects such as the HH60T model prototype and production challenges; the HH65 fleet wide re-engining; " C and D" model configurations and being part of the build of nine NCR helicopters. I enjoyed my time at Elizabeth City and made a lot of friends there. The folks who work there are the best. Throughout my career I have had my share of  long commutes to work but I must say the one hour+ ride to ECity from Virginia each morning was very scenic and pleasant. In 2009 I was promoted to a HUB Manager for URS and given more responsibility helping to manage 12 other sites including NAS Oceana, Robins AFB, and a bunch of Army sites. I mostly work out of Robins AFB in GA now and spend a lot more time on the road. I am quite proud of our team at Warner Robins although it is more challenging for me to get to know all the employees personally which is my usual style, since there are almost 500 URS employees at the Robins AFB site alone and they are spread out in different hangars and work areas.  The size and scope of the ALC operation at Robins dwarfs ECity but I certainly have gotten used to the nuisances. I especially enjoy walking across the the ramp each morning talking with our team and often watching them working on some of the same aircraft my son flies for the air force. It is a pretty cool and pumps up my fatherly pride. I get a lot of inquires for employment opportunities and I am always looking for good aircraft technicians, FAA mechanics and pilots; right know I am especially searching for H64 Apache maintenance test pilots. If you are interested you may apply here: https://www.urs.apply2jobs.com

Kat is back in college and I am working on an MBA in my spare time. We have truly been blessed. You can always get in touch with me here or at facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Michael.J.Harding

CWO Michael Harding's Recruit Company Commander Page
CWO Michael Harding's Recruit Company Commander Page

EMAIL: CWO Michael Harding