International Team of Rescuers Cited for Heroism following Daring Rescue at Sea

WASHINGTON, DC – Three members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and one member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary will be presented with the Silver Medal Award from the Association for Rescue at Sea "for demonstrating outstanding skill and decision-making in a heroic rescue" of 13 people from a sinking boat last spring. The Silver Medal Award is the highest search and rescue award given to members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary by a civilian organization. The ceremony will be held in Washington, DC on September 25, 2008

On April 25, 2007, approximately 20 miles from the picturesque sea port town of Homer, Alaska, the Halibut Endeavor, a 39 foot charter fishing boat with 13 souls on board (11 passengers and 2 crew) began taking on water and issued a distress call. Training about 20 miles away, was a high speed 27' Coast Guard Auxiliary boat manned by an international crew of Coast Guard Auxiliarists; Shane Taylor of Anchorage, Richard Liebe of Anchorage, Raymond Miller of Fairbanks, and Mike Cupit, on loan as part of an exchange program from the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. When they heard the call for help they immediately changed course and raced to the aid of the distressed boat.

When they arrived, they found the rear of the Halibut Endeavor close to submersion with the 11 passengers positioned at the front of boat apparently in an effort to keep the boat from tipping over into the 39 degree water. After quickly assessing the situation the Auxiliary crew moved the rescue boat into position and pulled the 11 passengers to safety. Within seconds of rescuing the 11 passengers the distressed boat rolled onto its side with the 2 crew members still on board forcing the rescue boat to pull back to a safe distance. The rescue boat again maneuvered next to the Halibut Endeavor to save the 2 crew members only seconds before the doomed boat sank.

Established in February of 2000, the Association for Rescue at Sea's (AFRAS) Silver Medal is presented at the AFRAS award ceremony held each fall on Capitol Hill. This ceremony is attended by members of Congress, AFRAS members, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and other senior Coast Guard personnel. To be eligible for the AFRAS Silver Medal the Auxiliarist(s) must have performed a rescue involving the saving of a life or lives from either inland or coastal waters where the heroic action of the nominee was uniquely distinguished.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Active Duty, Reserve and Auxiliary members, continuously train so they are always ready to save the lives of those in trouble on our Nation's waterways, it is part of their guardian ethos. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the United States Coast Guard. Created by an Act of Congress in 1939, the Auxiliary directly supports the Coast Guard in all missions, except military and direct law enforcement actions.

Pictured: Coast Guard Auxiliary Rescue boat returning to port following dramatic rescue at sea. (Photo by Stewart Sterling, USCGAUX)

Link to newsletter archive