A couple of good stories, about good people.
Two Oregon-based Coast Guardsmen receive high honors for heroism
ASTORIA, Ore. — Two Coast Guard Sector North Bend service members were recently recognized with high honors for heroic actions taken in 2021 to save lives while serving along Oregon’s coast.
Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Salt, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Sector North Bend, received the 2021 Angels of the Battlefield Award from the Armed Services YMCA, which pays tribute to military medical personnel for providing life-saving medical treatment and trauma care to service members or civilians in distress.
Petty Officer 1st Class Wallace Qual, a boatswain’s mate serving at Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay, received the Association for Rescue at Sea Gold Medal Award, the highest search and rescue award presented to a Coast Guard member by a civilian organization.
Salt was awarded the Angels of the Battlefield Award for helping save the lives of two hikers on Oregon’s snow-covered Grayback Mountain in January 2021 by spending more than 12 hours tending to a severely injured hiker, and another hiker, until the pair could be rescued by the National Guard.
Watch AST1 Salt’s award presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0uVQyEHlmI (Video above, Chuck)
Qual received the AFRAS Gold Medal Award for leading an early-morning September rescue for the master of the 44-foot fishing vessel Legend after the boat aground near the Yaquina Bay channel entrance near Newport, Oregon.
Realizing that no rescue helicopters or boats were available due to on-scene conditions of 60 to 70-knot winds and less than 200 yards visibility, Qual dressed in full search and rescue gear, including an additional 20 pounds of rescue equipment, and led a Coast Guard beach rescue team in running approximately two miles down the beach to help the fisherman in distress.
Battling high surf, wind-driven sand and hurricane force wind gusts, Qual finally succeeded in reaching the master. The beach rescue team was then able to pull Qual, with the master in tow, to shore using the swimmer tending line.
The AFRAS Gold Medal Award was established in 1982 and is presented annually to a Coast Guard enlisted person for an act of extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.
Original media release for the rescue may be viewed here: Station Yaquina Bay crew rescues fisherman from surf near South Beach State Park (govdelivery.com) (Attached below–Chuck)
Below is the earlier news release about the Station Yaquina Bay rescue:
Station Yaquina Bay crew rescues fisherman from surf near South Beach State Park
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 09/09/2020 12:11 AM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard 13th District PA Detachment Astoria
Station Yaquina Bay crew rescues fisherman from surf
near South Beach State Park
Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.
YAQUINA BAY, Ore. — A Coast Guardsman swam from shore to rescue a fisherman from the surf near South Beach State Park early Tuesday morning after his vessel ran aground and began taking on water.
The fisherman was forced to abandon ship after the vessel began breaking apart in 10-foot surf.
At approximately 11:40 p.m., Coast Guard Sector North Bend watchstanders received the initial mayday call from a fisherman over VHF-FM radio. The lone mariner aboard a 44-foot commercial fishing vessel requested assistance reporting he was on the south jetty at Newport. Coast Guard crews deployed to respond after Sector North Bend issued an urgent marine information broadcast.
Crews aboard a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, the 52-foot Motor Lifeboat Victory, and a ground party were dispatched from Station Yaquina Bay.
An Air Facility Newport aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter also responded but returned to base due to restricted visibility and hazardous weather conditions.
The weather on scene was reported to be 34.5-mph winds, 10-foot breaking surf, near zero visibility and 56-degree Fahrenheit water temperature.
Station Yaquina Bay crew members communicated with the distressed mariner via radio and instructed him to use flares to signal his location. The flares were sighted approximately 1.15 miles south of the Yaquina Bay jetties. The crew aboard the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat arrived on scene at approximately 1:20 a.m, but was unable to approach due to shoaling.
At this time, the ground party arrived on scene after running more than 1.5 miles from the South Beach State Park access area, carrying 500 feet of rescue line and other equipment.
At approximately 1:35 a.m., the mariner entered the water and Petty Officer 1st Class Wallace Qual made a first attempt to swim to his position. As the mariner was quickly being swept south by surf and currents, Qual returned to shore. With a second attempt, Qual successfully reached the mariner. The crew ashore pulled the two from the surf using the rescue line.
The mariner was transported to awaiting emergency medical personnel. No injuries were reported.
“The overall teamwork that went into locating the mariner, and the communication between our crews, was huge”, said Qual. “When I got to him, he was wearing his survival suit and had an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) and strobe light in hand. That preparedness probably saved his life.”
The Coast Guard urges all mariners to be equipped with the proper equipment and have a reliable means of communication in case of emergency.