Winder native Lt. Jason Bittner was recently honored for his part in a naval search and rescue operation.
Bittner, an aircraft commander at the Naval Air Station in Key West, piloted the air station’s SH-60 Seahawk during the March rescue of missing diver Andrew Schlieper.
Schlieper, who had become separated from his party during a diving excursion, was located after a three hour long search involving the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Bittner’s naval crew.
Bittner’s crew, using night vision goggles, was able to locate Schlieper after he activated a chemical light as a signaling device.
Schlieper was transported to an area hospital suffering from mild hypothermia.
Bittner was honored with a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for “professional achievement in the superior performance of his duties as helicopter aircraft commander.”
The award recognized Bittner for his “remarkable efforts” in expeditiously launching a rescue effort and leading his crew in a challenging low light search and rescue operation. The commendation read in part: “Lieutenant Bittner’s exceptional professionalism, unrelenting perseverance and loyal devotion to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
Bittner, a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School and the University of Georgia, is the son of Norman and Cheryl Scott of Dacula. He is the grandson of Eunice Saunders and the late Charlie Saunders of Winder.