ASTORIA, Ore. — A crew from Station Tillamook Bay in Garibaldi, Ore., was presented the 2011 Coast Guard Foundation Heroism Award at a ceremony in New York City, Thursday.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Conor Bennett, Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Karas, Fireman Michael Callahan, and Seaman Austin Bartosz were recognized for demonstrating extraordinarily outstanding teamwork, operational risk management, seamanship and courage while battling extreme sea conditions to save the lives of two fishermen last fall.
The 56-foot fishing vessel Double Eagle capsized in breaking seas while attempting to cross the Tillamook Bay Bar on Oct. 3, 2010. Following the impact of the breaking surf, the fishing vessel was broken apart with two crewmembers still onboard. The two fishermen were in the vessel’s superstructure as it was torn away from the hull and forced underwater by the 15-foot surf. The two crewmembers eventually resurfaced.
The 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Tillamook Bay quickly sprang into action.
Bennett, the 47-foot motor lifeboat driver, skillfully maneuvered the lifeboat within feet of submerged rocks and 16-foot breaking seas, making it possible to pass a life ring to the captain of the fishing vessel.
The crew located the other fisherman who was trapped in the surf and in danger of being swept into the exposed rocks of the jetty. Karas threw a rescue bag directly to the fisherman as a 12-foot wall of white water smashed and dragged the fisherman underwater. Karas held onto the line as the force of the wave carried the fisherman 30 feet through the surf. Callahan and Bartosz recovered the fishermen as he was heaved alongside the motor lifeboat.
The Coast Guard Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the men and women of the Coast Guard and their families.
For more information on the Coast Guard Foundation’s Annual Salute to the United States Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Foundation, or to help support its work, please visit the Coast Guard Foundation website at www.coastguardfoundation.org.
Source: U.S. Coast Guard – 13th District