42 years ago a handsome young military pilot entered a bar near Chicago O’Hare airport. It was a bar he didn’t often frequent but fate had drawn him there that night. The same night in the same bar a stunning young customer service agent from one of the major airlines reluctantly agreed to accompany a group of co-workers to a bar for an after work drink before returning to her apartment. When she arrived a group of married men seemed to be smitten with her entourage of friends. Being of high moral stature and having a very low bullshit meter the beautiful young women sought refuge anywhere but with the group of people. The story goes the young pilot was drawn to the beauty and he rescued her that night. He accompanied her to her doorstep and insured she made it home safe and sound. Six months later they were engaged and started their married lives at the Great Lakes Coast Guard Air Station on November 29, 1969. Four years after exchanging vows they became a family of 3 when they welcomed their beautiful daughter and two years later a family of four upon the birth of the second little girl.
They lived a charmed life filled with joy. They were giving and kind forever true to their vows. They became involved in their community and gave to others without thought or reservation. When they were stationed inKodiak,Alaska they together revived the Santa to the Villages program which still to this day allows Santa to deliver gifts to remote Alaskan villages via donated gifts and a Coast Guard helicopter. The young flyboy grew to be an accomplished pilot. He flew countless search and rescue missions bringing hope to the wounded, lost, & those in peril without thought of his own safety. They were a love story started in the windy city that would live long after their to death do us part vows.
James D. Stiles
- Date of death: Died in Line of Duty: February 18, 1979
- Status: DNB
Awards and Citations
Awarded for actions during the
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Lieutenant James D. Stiles, United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on the afternoon and evening of 1 March 1977 while serving as pilot and aircraft commander of Coast Guard HH-3F 1493 helicopter engaged in the perilous rescue of four crewmen from the fishing vessel VIKING ROVER which was disabled and sinking 43 miles south of Cape Sarichef, Alaska. Dispatched from Air Station Kodiak, the aircraft proceeded 475 miles to the scene, despite ceilings as low as 100-feet, visibility reduced to one-half mile in heavy snow showers, airframe icing and winds gusting to 70 knots. Arriving on scene, Lieutenant STILKS observed the distressed vessel foundering without steerage and progressively flooding in 20-foot seas which had already carried away the ship's only life raft. Lieutenant Stiles then established a precise hover over the bow of VIKING ROVER, despite the violent motion of the ship and rigging and severe buffeting of the aircraft by turbulent gust while the hoist operator hoisted the four hapless crewmen into the helicopter. When the survivors were secured, Lieutenant Stiles piloted the aircraft through increasing turbulence and gathering darkness toward Coast Guard Loran Station Cape Sarichef. Upon locating the Loran Station by the building lights, Lieutenant Stiles landed the helicopter in a clear area near the Station as the runway was obliterated by the blowing snow. Lieutenant Stiles' innovative actions, expert aeronautical skill, and dauntless valor throughout this perilous mission resulted in the successful rescue of the four crewmen. His courage sound judgment and unwavering devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
Action Date: 1-Mar-77
Service: Coast Guard
- Distinguished Flying Cross Awarded posthumously for actions during the Peace Time AwardsThe President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander James D. Stiles, United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on the night of 17 February and the early morning of 18 February 1979 white serving as pilot and aircraft commander of Coast Guard HH-3F 1432 engaged in the perilous attempt to rescue a severely injured seaman from the Japanese fishing vessel KAISEI MARU NO. 18 which was located 210 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Upon notification that a MEDEVAC was needed, Lieutenant Commander Stiles piloted the helicopter toward a rendezvous with a Coast Guard HC- 130 aircraft which had been dispatched to pinpoint the location of KAISEI MARU NO. 18. While en route, flying through heavy turbulence, high winds and snow showers, an updated position location for KAISEI MARU NO. 18 placed the vessel beyond the range of the helicopter, forcing Lieutenant Stiles to return to Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod. Receiving a further update on the vessel's location, Lieutenant Commander Stiles again piloted the aircraft through the deteriorating weather and located the wildly pitching vessel. After a demanding approach to the surface was executed, a tending line for the rescue litter failed when the line parted due to the motion of the vessel, and a second attempt failed due to the high winds. Before another attempt could be made, a mechanical malfunction occurred. Reacting immediately, Lieutenant Commander Stiles guided the crippled helicopter to the water in a level, controlled attitude. Upon reaching the surface, the turbulent seas capsized the aircraft, trapping Lieutenant Commander Stiles and three of the crewmen. Lieutenant Commander Stiles' innovative actions, expert aeronautical skill and valor, while sacrificing his own life, enabled one of the aircrewmen to escape. His courage, fortitude and unwavering devotion to duty are most heartily commended and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.Action Date: February 17 - 18, 1979
Service: Coast Guard
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
At the age of 33 years old, Jim "Denny" Stiles gave truth to the saying, "We have to go out, but we don't have to come back." You can read an account of his final mission in the above posthumously delivered DFC award. Today I share this love story with you because it is my legacy. My Dad left me gifts in his short life that I will take a lifetime to pass to my children. My passion to help others was inherited from that young couple. My desire to follow my dreams another gift. Today Suck it, Scoliosis took time to honor the men and women past and present who give all to our country. Without thought or reservation they serve. Always remember...Some gave all.
Catie Stiles D.