Coast Guard Honoring Tom Lee Posthumously for Heroic Rescue Effort

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Coast Guard will present the Coast Guard Certificate of Valor to the family members of Tom Lee at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at the Council Chambers of the City of Memphis to nationally recognize Lee posthumously for saving the lives of 32 people on the Mississippi River, on May 8, 1925.

While piloting his 28-foot skiff boat, Zev, he witnessed the sinking of a Corps of Engineers vessel, M. E. Norman, with 74 people on board. The sinking occurred in the fast currents 16 miles south of Memphis, Tenn. Lee, who was alone, quickly navigated the skiff upstream toward the people in distress. Disregarding his own safety and the river’s hazardous undercurrent, he rescued 32 people, pulling them onto his skiff and transporting them, a few at a time, to the safety of the shore. After bringing the last person to shore, he collected wood drifting on the river and built a fire for the rescued survivors. Lee then returned to the skiff and spent the night searching the river for others who might have survived. Lee battled physical exhaustion and his inability to swim so that others may live.

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