Coast Guard presents Public Service Commendation awards

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Samson Stevens (right), Commander of Coast Guard Sector Virginia, reads the Coast Guard Public Service Commendation award to the recipients Shawn Shapiro Sr., Shawn Shapiro Jr., and Mark Clemens, February 28, 2022, at the Hampton Roads Search and Rescue Forum in Hampton, Virginia. These three crew members of the vessel Weekend Warrior saved two other mariners from their burning vessel in February 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Emily Velez).

Capt. Samson Stevens (right) reads the Coast Guard Public Service Commendation award to the recipients Shawn Shapiro Sr., Shawn Shapiro Jr., and Mark Clemens, February 28, 2022, at the Hampton Roads Search and Rescue Forum in Hampton, Virginia. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Emily Velez).

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Capt. Timothy Eason, on behalf of Rear Adm. Laura Dickey, Coast Guard District Five Commander, presented the Coast Guard Public Service Commendation Award to three crewmembers from the motor vessel Weekend Warrior Monday. The three men were recognized for their heroic efforts rescuing two individuals from a vessel fire last February.

The awards were presented to Mark Clemens, Shawn Shapiro Sr., and Shawn Shapiro Jr. at the 16th Annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum, hosted by the Port of Virginia and Coast Guard Sector Virginia at The Landing at Hampton Marina Hotel.

“The standing ovation from over 130 first responders from 35 different Fire, Police and Emergency Management departments within the Hampton Roads region warmed my heart, and affirmed the strong sense of public safety and unity of effort this region is known for,” said Capt. Samson Stevens, commander of Coast Guard Sector Virginia. “Most importantly, we recognized the everyday heroes – the mariners – who live and operate in our Tidewater region. Our waterways are safer because of good Samaritans like Mr. Shapiro, Sr., Mr. Shapiro, Jr., and Mr. Clemens.”

On February 9th, 2021, a recreational vessel 45 miles east of Cape Charles caught fire, forcing the two persons aboard into the water. The men were badly burned and hypothermic in the fifty degree water while hanging on to their rapidly sinking vessel. The motor vessel Weekend Warrior quickly diverted after noticing smoke on the horizon and was the first vessel on scene.

The men were pulled from the water moments before their vessel sank and transported to the Coast Guard Cutter Dependable where they received first aid. The two men were later medevaced to Norfolk General Hospital by a Coast Guard helicopter.

The crew aboard the Weekend Warrior were applauded for their dedication and judgment, noting that this selfless action could have very likely prevented the loss of two lives.

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