What are the U.S. Coast Guard and their priority at work? These silent heroes are keeping U.S. citizens safe and sound out at sea. Some stories are here.
Recently, Martha Laguardia has published a book so-called So Other May Live, which tells touching stories about USCG Rescuers. But it’s not everything about this heroism.
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You may have heard about the USCG and their work and the AFRAS Gold medals. However, there are so many more stories to be told to praise these soldiers’ bravery. For long years of operation, this U.S. military branch has contributed significantly in taking care of safety and peace at sea.
The article helps you look at the bigger picture around the U.S. Coast Guard team and highlights their rescuing.
Table of Contents
U.S. Coast Guard
Coast Guard Rescue Ship
USCG is one of 8 uniformed services in the US Military that take care of peace and safety for people at sea. Their use extends from domestic to international water fields and consists of multiple operations.
When we talk about the U.S. Coast Guard, we mention their work concerning maritime security, law enforcement in the U.S. sea, and international water. And, one of the oldest services by USCG is searched and rescue.
This service with the AFRAS gold medals has shed light on the silent sacrifice of the soldiers. This service enlightens the bravery, intelligence, and professionalism of trained rescuers that their stories appear right below.
Even though they are marine military, soldiers carry on missions using different vehicles from ships, boats to helicopters. Therefore, the department gets divided into other stations and teams.
U.S. Coast Guard uniform attached with golden images on the seal since 1970. And this color is original for the AFRAS gold medal.
In 1983, a vessel named Marine Electric went out of the sea and was unluckily caught in a fierce storm. The 34 people in that ship weren’t able to come back to life until Coast Guard in Air Station Elizabeth City got the SOS message and came to rescue. However, the helicopter’s operation didn’t help save people so much since they had to climb up the basket themselves. Resulting in 3 survivors, the helicopter rescue swimmer started.
They opened necessary training to help Coast Guard conduct essential to act upon rescuing people from such distance. Even it has become a standard rescue program nowadays, and it was a tough time back then because of lacking skills in swimming, rescuing, and helping people in dangerous situations.
This training created a legacy for Coast Guard by bringing the number of survivors from sea accidents up. It’s excellent news for the Coast Guard’s mission.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Patrol boat of Coast Huard Auxiliary
USCG Auxiliary appears with the same seal symbol but in silver. Founded so many years later than the USCG, the team has contributed no less to rescuing and searching operations.
While the legitimate team includes all carefully trained soldiers, the Auxiliary are volunteers in carrying out orders. They contribute 2 million hours every year doing essential chores such as checking up on vessels, harbors, classes. And also, these active volunteers attend patrols over the sea and conduct duties relating to administration.
You might see they have a limitation in carrying the law, but their operation means a lot to search and rescue operations. And, it’s the critical meaning of working in USCG.
Founded in 1939, more than a hundred years later than USCG, the team gathers many heroic acts on rescuing people. They have got multiple cases that deserved the silver AFRAS medals.
U.S. Coast Guard Stories about Rescuers – AFRAS Medals
The AFRAS Gold Medal for U.S. Coast Guard
AFRAS medals include golden and silver ones to reward people in the above two teams for their heroic acts. At first, it was just an organization to fight and raise funds for the operation at sea.
The gold medal came only when, in 1982, the redundancy in budget and human force in USCG brought the operation in maintaining peace at sea in crisis. At a time, the medal was a motivation to people on duty.
Gold Medals are to USCG soldiers who conduct hero while the silver ones go to the Auxiliary force. The difference doesn’t say anything about who was better heroes, but about the party they were in. Both medals consider rescuing the same value of humane and bravery.
Through the years, there have been many people who gained these prizes for their job. The act of celebrating heroic activities means a lot to people at silent operation, to fuel their fire and spirit in maintaining safety.
Every year, the ceremony to grant medals happens on Capitol Hill with the presence of the U.S. President and other Senates. Even though the awards are not from the government since the organization represents no single country, the U.S. government respects people by honoring them in one of the most important buildings.
Not only the medals, but there are more awards for people who have been brave in rescuing people at sea. Some famous names besides AFRAS are the Amver Award Medal by the Navy League of the U.S., the Amver Award for Safety at sea, and the Amver Assisted Rescue at sea award.
U.S. Coast Guard who risks own life to save other
The USCG rescues hundreds of people at sea every year, and only a few of them got awarded the medal. It’s undeniable that the process of vetting documents is stringent, so people knew little about the heroic act of a soldier at sea.
This article will tell you some stories that might not yet be published as praise, but they deserve to be known for their work.
Astoria Coast Guard Pilots, 2018
Hurricane Harvey – After the Storm
Hurricane Harvey was once a nightmare to people in America. That deadly storm resulted in many homeless people and loss. The U.S. Coast Guard joined in the rescue force at a time in order to take people out of raising flood.
At the time, rescuing happens to be with airplanes since boats cannot access the area’s high points. It was an event lasting for days, and the pilots have to fly in too stormy weather. High winds, rain, and flood kept messing their vision and space in taking people out. Also, they needed to break house, swim, and get dragged into a tricky area to search for survivors.
The operation was never easy, not only because of the weather but also people were not stable physically and mentally. The team has found out big groups of survivors through messages written in a cup, rescued people with broken parts out of the flood, and also carry on the search restlessly.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Hylkema – Westpost 2016
What he did was like a hero in the breaking sea. On October 6th, 2016, Hylkema was on duty at sea with his Motor lifeboat. The signal for SOS came from the master of vessel Grace, and later, the team found him stuck on the way crossing Long Beach Peninsula.
It was a night, and Hylkema with the team stayed around searching for the men in the dark. Once the men appeared, he went down into the water to help the man up to the rescue boat.
The location is among the sea with 20 feet deep. And at the time, there was no good point to cling on, and the master’s life was on edge.
However, the rescuer stayed calmed enough to help the master settle down physically and mentally after the rescue through such an eventful night.
Joseph Flythe – U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter rescue swimmer – 2015
Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2015
Flythe was one of the members of the first helicopter rescue swimmers, so he got some skills. However. It’s undeniable when talking about his contribution to Search and Rescue operations at sea. The case in Massachusetts in 2015 was one of the iconic rescues he made.
That day, he came to rescue two men who were stuck in the middle of the sea. At that time, they had to get there by helicopter since the location happened to be 100 miles offshore. It was near North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras.
It wasn’t easy to go down to the water, take the men up to the saving tool, and done. The man Flythe tried to get hold of was freaked out of the helicopter. He even managed to run away from the USCG team.
As Flythe shared, he was on the edge of losing the man since he tried his best to get out. However, years of training in the Elizabeth School had made Fythe grab all he has to calm the men down even through a wrestling time.
Rescue swimmers are known to be calm and skillful at the same time. It’s not only playing the hero part but also be a psychologist. The people in danger sometimes wear crises in the mind that they know nothing about, not to mention cooperate. However, these Coast Guard never let the survivors go no matter what, including risking their lives in the middle of the ocean.
Besides being brave, the rescuers must be in the right mind to conduct the whole process during and after the rescuing.
Petty Officer 1st Class Rachid Arnick- the Bering Sea, 21, 2013
Arnick works in Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, and that day was one of his days on duty. The weather happened to be so severe that day with 80-mile/ hour wind. Even the rescue at sea requires a helicopter’s operation for the fastest approach, but that weather means extreme danger to fly.
Since they already got the survivor’s location in the sea, they knew that immediate action must occur. He went down to the water and gradually got four men up to the helicopter. Even when the survivors settled safely with the rescue team, the rescuer must stay last in the middle of waves and wait for another hoist.
It wasn’t that simple as he almost lost his life when the situation betrayed them with stormy weather. Once getting up to the helicopter, this man thoroughly conducted treating survivors with available first aid.
His action later brought him the honor of the Thomas Sargent Gold Medal- or we say the AFRAS gold medal.
U.S. Auxiliary volunteer who have done impossible duties
Richard Runde, Jay Croy, and Linda Croy – 33rd Annual Leech Lake Regatta and Sailboat Race, 2004
It was a sailboat race, and this auxiliary Coast Guard was on duty. The job of the USCG Auxiliary force stayed at observing and checking up for safety as well as legislation.
The weather turned worse and worse in the race so that Vessel Wind Dancer could no longer stay on its trail. The difficulty was from knotting wind and the depth of water. However, the volunteer has successfully rescued and managed the situation. Hence, no tragic loss occurred that day.
Auxiliarists Shane Taylor, Richard Liebe, Raymond Miller, and Canadian CG Auxiliarist Michael Cupit – 2007
The team was on the way to training when they heard an SOS message from Vessel Halibut Endeavour. It was a massive boat with a 39 feet charter, but the ship had taken up much water when they came.
It wasn’t a favorable situation when there were 13 people needing rescuing. It’s a compliment on them as they showed up in a short time- 20 minutes after getting the call.
They carried the rescue procedure in calm and precision so that there was no life loss from that case. Their outstanding performance rescued a lot of lives that night.
AFRAS Medal ceremony
No matter what time USCG is operating, searching and rescuing is one of their priorities. For a long time, they have been known for heroic slogans such as “So others may live.”
Every day and night, their work has been a massive contribution to peacetime, no matter what weather it is. No matter if they can get the medals, these heroes are trained to be professional, heartful, and calm rescue swimmers who risk their lives for others.