Coast Guard presents Meritorious Public Service Award to San Jose native

Pacific Southwest Coast Guard News
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Rear Adm. Karl Shultz, 11th Coast Guard District commander, presented the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award to Taylor Palmaffy, a San Jose native, on behalf of Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, the 14th Coast Guard District commander, at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, Monday, November 25, 2013.

Palmaffy, 16, was recognized for his heroic actions in providing aid to two distressed swimmers at Ka’anapali Beach on the island of Maui, Hawaii, during his family’s vacation in June 2012.

Palmaffy said he observed two swimmers struggling against the current who were swept out to deeper waters.

“I was a certified lifeguard for three months and had training from Boy Scouts to recognize signs of someone in distress.” Palmaffy said. “ Without hesitation, I took my boogie board out to the two people in distress to help.”

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Karl Shultz, the 11th District commander, presents an award to Taylor Palmaffy on behalf of Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, 14th District commander at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. Palmaffy, joined by his family, received the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award for his rescue efforts for saving two lives during his family's vacation in Maui, Hawaii, in 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Loumania Stewart

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Karl Shultz, the 11th District commander, presents an award to Taylor Palmaffy on behalf of Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, 14th District commander, at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Loumania Stewart

Palmaffy said he noticed the 16-year old boy and the older woman were swimming against the waves when the best way to fight against the 6-foot surf was to swim parallel to the waves.

When Palmaffy arrived on scene, he gave the young man his boogie board and instructed him to paddle to safer water. Once they were safe, Palmaffy was able to maneuver the boy to meet his father, who was able to assist further.

Palmaffy’s father, Michael, said when he joined his son and the teenager, Taylor immediately went back for the older woman.

“I’m very proud of my son. He used (what) he was taught to serve others,” said Michael Palmaffy.

Palmaffy’s mother, Amy, said she was on the beach with Taylor’s younger brother and sister keeping them safe.

“As a mother, I was scared for Taylor, but I was also proud of the initiative he took to help,” said Amy Palmaffy.

When Palmaffy’s mother asked, “What made you do it?” His reply was, “I couldn’t imagine not helping.”

Rear Adm. Thomas said, “This selfless act for a young man undoubtedly mitigated a hazardous situation that could have resulted in a loss of life. Taylor Palmaffy’s character actions and dedication to public services are most heartily commended by the United States Coast Guard.“

The Meritorious Public Service award is one of the highest public recognition awards presented by the Coast Guard and is given to recognize unusual courage in advancing the Coast Guard’s missions.

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