FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani
The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Gold Medal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Marine Operations, National Ocean Service, and Office of Public and Constituent Affairs for their outstanding efforts in locating the downed aircraft of John F. Kennedy Jr. and supporting victim recovery, salvage, and investigative efforts.
Rear Adm. Evelyn Fields, NOAA Corps, director of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations; Capt. Ted Lillestolen, NOAA Corps, deputy director of the National Ocean Service; and Barbara Semedo, director of the Office of Public and Constituent Affairs, were presented the award on Dec. 7 by Commerce Secretary William Daley at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The NOAA hydrographic survey ships Rude and Whiting, operated and managed by officers of the NOAA Corps and civilians in the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, located the aircraft on the sea floor with the side scan sonar regularly used to map the ocean floor for nautical charts. An onshore team of hydrographers from NOAA's National Ocean Service created charts of the search area using the ships' data; others from NOS provided trajectory analyses, forecasting the probable track of any floating debris. Public Affairs officers on site and at NOAA headquarters provided media support throughout the search and recovery effort.
The Secretary grants the Gold Medal -- the Department's highest honorary award -- for extraordinary achievements in support of the Department's critical objectives. These achievements have a significant beneficial effect on the nation, and sometimes the world.