NEW ORLEANS – Summerdale, Ala., native and Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Heath Ard, a Reservist with the Coast Guard Gulf Strike Team in Mobile, Ala., recently returned from an extended tour of duty for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.<br /> <br /> Ard was recalled to active duty October 2012 and remained on active status for the 12 months following his report date. This was his second deployment to the Deepwater response.<br /> <br /> During his deployment, Ard was assigned to Gulf Shores, Ala., where he served as a Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team member. <br /> <br /> SCAT teams perform a crucial role in environmental crisis response. Teams collect data on shoreline oiling conditions, preparing field maps and forms detailing the areas surveyed and making specific cleanup recommendations.<br /> <br /> “It was very fulfilling to be a part of this historic response,” said Ard. “There were some long days working in 90-plus degree weather in remote locations, but the sense of pride I got from serving my country - along with the teamwork, camaraderie, and friendships I made down here - made this deployment worthwhile.”<br /> <br /> The Gulf Strike Team is one of three special teams that make up the National Strike Force. It is a vital national asset comprised of a unique, highly trained cadre of Coast Guard professionals who maintain and rapidly deploy with specialized equipment and incident management skills any time to any place or hazard.<br /> <br /> Ard received a Coast Guard Letter of Commendation for his work on the response.