Air Station Kodiak Petty Officer Named USO Coast Guardsman of the Year

On October 7, 2010, the USO held its annual USO Gala in Washington, D.C. This star-studded event featured well-known entertainers from USO celebrity entertainment tours and recognized a special volunteer, as well as honorees selected by the senior enlisted representatives from each branch of the armed forces for their extraordinary bravery, loyalty and heroism.

Chief of Staff for the U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral John P. Currier presents the USO Coast Guardsman of the Year Award to AST3 Robert T. Emley at the 2010 USO Gala in Washington, DC on October 7, 2010. USO photo by Bill Auth.

AST3 Robery Emley conducted a perilous rescue of a downed paraglider trapped inside a sea cave at Cape Lookout, Ore., while serving as rescue swimmer aboard Coast Guard helicopter 6001. Demonstrating exceptional courage and determination, he deployed directly and disconnected from the rescue hook as the survivor drifted into the cave and out of sight. After expertly timing the breaking waves, Emley swam 100-feet inside the cave to reach the parachute-entangled survivor. Having lost visual contact with the helicopter, he quickly assessed the survivor’s condition and the surrounding environment to determine the best course of action for an immediate rescue.

Shrewdly studying the wave hydraulics, Emley quickly capitalized on an outgoing surge to swim the survivor, with paraglider still attached, out of the depths of the cave. Not yet out of harm’s way, he worked feverishly to free the survivor from the parachute as they were pushed dangerously close to the jagged cliff face. While protecting the survivor from the churning waters, he skillfully cut away the parachute and carefully placed the severely hypothermic survivor into the rescue basket, where she was hoisted to the safety of the helicopter. Petty Officer Emley’s heroic actions and superb physical conditioning enabled him to save the paraglider’s life.

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