US Coast Guard Hero Wins AFRAS Gold Medal
The Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc. (AFRAS) will hold its annual awards ceremony and reception on 4 October 2012 on Capitol Hill.
The event will be co-hosted by the Honorable Howard Coble, co-chairman, U.S. Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. AFRAS will award the Gold Medal, the Silver Medal and the Amver (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) plaque for outstanding rescues made in 2011.
The Gold Medal and a cash prize will be presented to Randall J. Rice, Chief Warrant Officer, US Coast Guard; the Silver Medal and a cash prize will be awarded to the crew of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Facility 25371 and the Amver plaque will go to the Captain and crew of M/V Oleander.
Chief Warrant Officer Randall J. Rice of US Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod will receive the prestigious AFRAS Gold Medal for his heroic life-saving actions on 10 May 2011 while serving as rescue swimmer aboard Coast Guard Helicopter CG6004.
At approximately noon, Rice and his crew launched from Air Station Cape Cod in response to a distress call received from the 45-foot sailing vessel EVA, located 150 nautical miles southeast of Cape Cod. Pounding seas and gale force winds had ripped the mast off the vessel and shattered the windows endangering the lives of the crew. The surrounding waters and deck were littered with sails, lines and debris.
Arriving at an updated position relayed from a concurrently launched HU-25 Aircraft, and unable to establish communications with the vessel, Rice and his crew conducted a search to locate S/V EVA in the tossing 20-30 foot waves. Rice eventually spotted the vessel and vectored the pilot into position.
The aircraft commander initially made the decision not to deploy the rescue swimmer due to numerous hazards in the water, but after further assessment it was determined that deployment was required in order to save the two crewmen – one having sustained a back injury.
Chief Warrant Officer Rice entered the water, maneuvered through the 30-foot swells and debris to the vessel and climbed aboard. He quickly cleared the deck of rubble and prepared for two basket hoists of the crew. He meticulously executed each hoist from the deck of EVA as the thrashing waves and raging winds battered the vessel. His swift actions were instrumental in the saving of two lives.
The Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) is a non-profit foundation with charitable status, which supports services concerned with saving lives at sea. Other awards to be presented at the ceremony include the Silver Medal, and the AFRAS AMVER Award.