HONOLULU — The Coast Guard presented the Silver Life Saving Medal Thursday to Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel G. Perez who risked his life to save a man from drowning at Bastimientos Island, Republic of Panama, Nov. 9, 2012.
Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander of the Coast Guard 14th District, presented Perez with the medal during a ceremony at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.
While on deployment with a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction tactical squadron detachment assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, Perez, who was enjoying liberty at Red Frog Beach, heard cries for help from an elderly man caught in a rip current 10 yards offshore. Without hesitation, Perez grabbed his swimming fins, ran into the water and battled surf to reach the survivor.
Another Coast Guardsman was on scene attempting to keep the survivor afloat but was near exhaustion. A local beach lifeguard also swam out to provide assistance with two flotation devices, but it was not enough to affect the rescue. Noticing the survivor was too exhausted to stay afloat, Perez took him into a rescue hold to keep him above water. With waves up to 8 feet pushing the group toward a large cliff, Perez directed them to swim farther offshore, then parallel to the beach to exit the rip current. After 15 minutes of swimming, the group rounded the rocky point and used the surf to swim to shore.
“It is an honor to get recognized,” said Perez. “I am grateful that I was able to help.”
Perez, a resident of Tamuning, Guam, is an aviation maintenance technician currently stationed at Air Station Barbers Point.
The Silver Lifesaving Medal was created by Congress in 1874 and is awarded to those who endanger their own lives while saving or attempting to save another person from drowning, a shipwreck or other perils of the water.
The Coast Guard is the ultimate award authority for the Silver Lifesaving Medal and can award the decorations to members of all military branches as well as civilians. To date more than 1,900 Silver Lifesaving Medals have been awarded. Substantially more Medals of Honor have been awarded than Lifesaving Medals.