Coast Guard awards Meritorious Public Service Award to six British Virgin Islands Residents

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard recognized six British Virgin Islands’ Good Samaritans during an awards presentation Friday at the Premier’s Office in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Captain Eduardo Pino presented the Meritorious Public Service Award to Anegada residents Captain’s Alred Smith, Mark Soares and George Smith, and crewmember’s Dean Soares, Jeff Soares and Dennis Vanterpool, for their role in the rescue of 10 Haitian and three Sri Lankan migrants off Anegada, British Virgin Islands Jan. 20, 2009.

The distressed migrant vessel was reportedly carrying 25 passengers at the time the distress call was made to the British Virgin Islands 911 emergency operator.

“It is my privilege to be here representing the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard as we present these Meritorious Public Service Awards,” said Captain Eduardo Pino, Sector San Juan commander. “The heroes recognized today demonstrated great courage under cover of darkness, they responded to a Coast Guard Urgent Marine Information Broadcast saving 13 lives from the perils of the unforgiving sea.”

“The tragedy could have been worse were it not for the actions of these six men who responded to the call of those in distress,” said His Excellency David Perry, Governor of the British Virgin Islands, while delivering remarks at the ceremony.

“It is clear that you brave men have performed a very significant deed and that it has not gone unnoticed. The medal that you receive today is a tangible reward signifying the appreciation and the high esteem that the U.S. Coast Guard personnel hold for your selfless actions in saving the lives of those who were in distress, said Rosalie Adams, Permanent Secretary to the British Virgin Islands Premier’s Office.”

The Meritorious Public Service Award is the second highest Coast Guard issued public service award given to those recognized for their substantial contributions to Coast Guard missions.

The original report of the rescue and search for an additional 10 Haitians is located here.

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