He was relieved by Capt. Melissa Rivera, who arrived from Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico.
Deal commanded the Kodiak Air Station for three years, and played a key role in establishing the Coast Guard operations base in Barrow.
“I’ve enjoyed the challenges of operations here, but the thing that made it home for us is the people of Kodiak,” he said.
Deal and his wife Kitty plan to remain in Kodiak. She will continue to work at Kodiak Community College as the assistant professor of education and coordinator for the UAA Early Childhood and Elementary Education Program in
Kodiak, while Deal plans to spend some time enjoying Kodiak’s outdoors.
“I’m going to catch up on the things I’ve been putting on the back burner for so long,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of fish that need to be caught, and I’ve got a very, very long hunting to-do list.”
During his farewell remarks, Deal thanked his family, the Kodiak community and his fellow Coast Guardsmen for the service and support.
“The biggest emotion I’m feeling right now is gratitude,” Deal said. “We are truly blessed here in Kodiak to have such a strong (Coast Guard) family.”
Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District, traveled from Juneau to preside at the ceremony.
“Capt. Deal leaves our service with honor, and we’re better off than when he went in, and it’s because he went in,” Ostebo said. “He is a great pilot and a great friend.”
Ostebo spoke to Deal’s service and accomplishments over the years. “He’s an aviator who will be remembered as someone who led from the cockpit,” Ostebo said. “He logged almost 22,000 flight hours. That’s a remarkable accomplishment and one to be proud of.”
Ostebo also spoke on the importance the air station has as the Coast Guard expands into the Arctic.
“Kodiak Air Station is a life saver across domains,” Ostebo said. “It’s at the forefront of the emerging ocean, the Arctic.”
After accepting her orders, Rivera talked about taking over as commanding officer of the air station.
“My top priority is your safe return,” Rivera said.
She told the air station crew to focus on taking care of themselves, others and executing their mission.