Representative Patrick L. Meehan of the 7th Congressional District entered a statement into the Congressional Record in recognition of Emlin Tunnell.
He had a proud Coast Guard history.
On April 27, 1944, the Coast Guard-manned cargo ship USS Etamin was unloading 6000 tons of explosives and gasoline while at anchor at Aitape Harbor, Papua New Guinea. Without warning, Etamin was attacked by Japanese aircraft and a torpedo blew a hole 27 feet by 27 feet in the ship’s starboard side.
With the shell plating and shaft alley of Etamin ruptured, gasoline sprayed over the after part of the ship, creating a dangerous situation for all aboard. It was Coast Guard Steward’s Mate Emlen Lewis Tunnel who came to the aid of Machinist’s Mate First Class Fred Shaver, who was on fire, pulling him to safety and severely burning his own hands in the process.
Two years later,
On March 17, 1946, Tunnell was nominated for the Silver Lifesaving Medal for once again saving the life of a fellow shipmate.
His shipmate, Alfred Givens, fell off the dock of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa. Without regard to his own safety, Tunnell jumped into the 32-degree seas and rescued Givens. Tunnell saved his drowning shipmate, and despite being in the water for only fifteen minutes, suffered exposure and shock.
Unfortunately, probably because to the bias against African Americans, the award was not approved until 2011, after Tunnell’s death.
Tunnell had a very successful career in the NFL, but died at age 50.
Perhaps he is a candidate to be a a namesake for a Webber class.
Thanks to Terry A. for bringing this to my attention.