Former Coast Guard Petty Officer awarded Coast Guard Medal for extraordinary heroism

SAUSALITO, Calif. - Kristin Lunkley, a former crewmember at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate, poses with her award, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. Lunkley received the Coast Guard Medal for extraordinary heroism during a 2008 rescue. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Pamela J. Manns.

Kristin Lunkley poses with her Coast Guard Medal

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Former Coast Guard petty officer Kristin Reger Lunkley was awarded the Coast Guard Medal for extraordinary heroism today at Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, Calif.

Lunkley was recognized for saving a man trapped beneath the capsized sail boat, Wing It, in San Francisco Bay, July 24, 2008.

Lunkley was a crewmember aboard a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat from Station Golden Gate that responded to the overturned boat. When the crew realized that man underneath the boat was unable to free himself, Lunkley volunteered to swim in the cold water and rescue him.

She battled four-foot seas and 25-mile an hour winds to reach the trapped man. With the capsized boat quickly drifting to jagged rocks, Lunkley understood the need to remove him from a situation that grew more urgent by the second.

Without thinking of her own safety, Lunkley disconnected her lifeline, attached it to a life jacket, and shoved it under the sinking boat. She yelled to the man to put on the life jacket. When she tried to pull him out, he became entangled in the sail rigging which pulled him underwater. Reacting quickly, Lunkley immediately cut the submerged lines was able to pull him free.

Shortly after, Lunkley and the man were both recovered by the crew aboard another 25-foot Coast Guard response boat onscene. Once onboard, Lunkley helped treat his injuries. The man was delivered to emergency medical services and later on made a full recovery.

“I feel honored to receive this award, but it really belongs to the whole crew,” said Lunkley. “We were a team out there.”

The Coast Guard Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who, while serving in any capacity in the Coast Guard, distinguishes himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. To justify this decoration, the individual must have performed a voluntary act of heroism in the face of great personal danger of such a magnitude that it stands out distinctly above normal expectations.

Lunkley is the only person to have been awarded the Coast Guard Medal in 2008, and is one of only 310 service members to receive the award since it was established in 1949.

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