Coast Guard to honor civilians heroism

 SEATTLE – Coast Guard Air Station Astoria will conduct a civilian awards ceremony July 19 at 4 p.m. The event will take place at 2185 SE 12th Place Warrenton, Ore. 97146.

Rear Admiral Richard Houck, Coast Guard Thirteenth District Commander, will be joining Captain Peter Troedsson, Group/ Air Station Astoria Commander, in presenting awards to members of the community.

A Silver Lifesaving Medal will be presented to Curtis L. Dawson, a Distinguished Public Service Award will be presented to Leroy Schlecht and three Meritorious Public Service Awards will be presented to Alan Graham, Wayne Simpson, and Jeremy Youngquist, members of the Columbia River Bar Pilots from Astoria.

The Medal and Awards are presented to them for their heroic actions on the night of December 3, 2005 when the tug Tiger tipped over near Pier 1 in Astoria.

While assisting a barge that broke loose from its mooring, the Tiger tipped over forcing Captain David Schmelzer into the frigid waters of the Columbia River. Crewman Curtis L. Dawson risked his life by jumping from the barge into the 45-degree water to rescue the Captain. Crew member, Leroy Schlecht threw over a line to bring the two up, but Dawson was unable to bring Captain Schmelzer and himself out of the water due to injuries they both attained and the onset of hypothermia after being in the water for 15 minutes.

After several attempts to bring Captain Schmelzer back to consciousness, Dawson finally had to bring himself onto the barge leaving Captain Schmelzer on the line with his head still above water. Within minutes the Columbia River Bar Pilot helicopter Seahawk, piloted by Alan Graham and Jeremy Youngquist with Wayne Simpson as the hoist operator, arrived on scene and lowered a rescue strap down to recover Captain Schmelzer.

The crew of the Seahawk was able to hoist Captain Schmelzer into the helicopter and transport him to an awaiting ambulance ashore.

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