Association for Rescue at Sea Gold and Silver Medal Winners Announced

Washington –  The Coast Guard announced today the 2007 winners of the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) Gold and Silver Medals. There will be a reception held on capitol hill on September 8 to recognize the winners.

The Gold AFRAS Medal is awarded annually to a Coast Guard enlisted member who has uniquely demonstrated selfless courage and heroism during a rescue of life at sea. This years recipient is Petty Officer William Milam of Air Station Kodiak, Alaska.  Petty Officer Milam earned the medal for extraordinary heroism on February 10, 2007 while serving as a rescue swimmer on Coast Guard helicopter 6525 during the rescued of four fisherman from F/V Illusion near Unalaska Island.

On a pitch-black morning, the HH-65C helicopter launched in near-zero visibility to locate the source of a distress signal about 50 nautical miles southwest of Makushin Bay.  After spotting the life raft from the Illusion, Milam courageously deployed into the 15-foot swells, often losing sight of the raft, as he swam to the survivors.  Climbing aboard the tossing raft, he discovered all survivors were soaked in unprotected clothing and mildly hypothermic.  After receiving survival clothing from the helicopter, and despites 40-degree water that had leaked into his suit, Milam was able to successfully hoist all four survivors onboard the helicopter.  His decisive actions and valor was instrumental in the rescue of the stricken fisherman.

The Silver AFRAS Medal is awarded annually to a Coast Guard Auxiliary member for extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.  This year the Silver Medal is being awarded to three Coast Guard Auxiliarist from the Seventeenth Coast Guard District and a member of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.  The four, Auxiliarists Shane Taylor, Richard Liebe, Raymond Miller and Canadian CG Auxiliarist Michael Cupit, earned the medal on April 25, 2007.

While underway for training on CG275594, the crew overheard a distress call from the 39-foot charter vessel Halibut Endeavor stating they were rapidly taking on water, had 13 people on board.  The crew responded and arrived on scene in 20 minutes.  After transferring 11 passengers to their boat, the Halibut Endeavor heeled to port, forcing the boat captain and deck hand to crawl onto the bow.  The CG275594 was quickly repositioned and both were safely transferred to the Coast Guard boat before the Halibut Endeavor sank.  The crew of CG275594 demonstrated outstanding skill and decision making in the heroic rescue of 13 lives from the sinking Halibut Endeavor.

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