Two Oregon-based Coast Guardsmen receive honors for heroism

ASTORIA, Ore. — Two Coast Guard Sector North Bend service members were recently recognized with high honors for heroic actions taken in 2021 to save lives while serving along Oregon’s coast.

Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Salt, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Sector North Bend, received the 2021 Angels of the Battlefield Award from the Armed Services YMCA, which pays tribute to military medical personnel for providing life-saving medical treatment and trauma care to service members or civilians in distress.

Petty Officer 1st Class Wallace Qual, a boatswain’s mate serving at Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay, received the Association for Rescue at Sea Gold Medal Award, the highest search and rescue award presented to a Coast Guard member by a civilian organization.

Salt was awarded the Angels of the Battlefield Award for helping save the lives of two hikers on Oregon’s snow-covered Grayback Mountain in January 2021 by spending more than 12 hours tending to a severely injured hiker, and another hiker, until the pair could be rescued by the National Guard.

Qual received the AFRAS Gold Medal Award for leading an early-morning September rescue for the master of the 44-foot fishing vessel Legend after the boat aground near the Yaquina Bay channel entrance near Newport, Oregon.

Realizing that no rescue helicopters or boats were available due to on-scene conditions of 60 to 70-knot winds and less than 200 yards visibility, Qual dressed in full search and rescue gear, including an additional 20 pounds of rescue equipment, and led a Coast Guard beach rescue team in running approximately two miles down the beach to help the fisherman in distress.

Battling high surf, wind-driven sand and hurricane force wind gusts, Qual finally succeeded in reaching the master. The beach rescue team was then able to pull Qual, with the master in tow, to shore using the swimmer tending line.

The AFRAS Gold Medal Award was established in 1982 and is presented annually to a Coast Guard enlisted person for an act of extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.

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