Reservist

ISS2 2016

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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MICHIGAN CITY — Ten-foot-tall waves struck the craft. Winds of some 50 knots whipped around the crew. And the turbulence in the water, which was growing worse off the Michigan City Lighthouse Pier on the night of Sept. 19, 2015, started threatening the safety of everyone on board the Coast Guard vessel headed by crew leader BM2 Michael Daray. With the boat only able to handle waves of up to six feet, Daray ordered the ship to turn around. But then he and his crew heard something — screams from the lighthouse pier. One or more people had fallen into the water. "We made a quick decision to assist them," he said during an interview with The News-Dispatch on Saturday. "Some of the people were able to pull themselves onto the pier, but we saw there were still two people clinging for dear life onto the edge of the lighthouse." So he and his crew timed the distance between the waves and drove between them until they reached the struggling victims, who had been swept off the pier by the deadly waters. It was later learned one man had already drowned. Once there, crew members took the line, which was out in front of the boat, and tossed it to the struggling victims, who were able to grab hold and get hauled on board. "It was very easy and very quick," Daray said. "We were able to haul them on board and get out of there before any larger waves pushed us into the lighthouse." For such efforts, Daray received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and his crew, composed of BM1 Alex Harper, BM1 Blaine Wilken, MK2 Edward Schwager and BM3 Luke Josey, received (Commandant's) Letters of Commendation during a ceremony Saturday, March 19, 2016 at the Michigan City Coast Guard Station. There, Chief Boatswain Joshua Janney said crew members showed a degree of bravery and skill he had never seen before in a Coast Guard Reserve crew. "They had to drive their boat into conditions they are not allowed to drive their boat into," he said. "But sometimes that decision has to be made on scene. The way the manual is written, it doesn't always take into account the situations developing before you. Daray made a decision, the entire chain of command supported the decision. He made the right decision, and he was good enough at his job to execute it safely." He said Daray received a different award because the decision ultimately rested with him. The crew, however, did an incredible job. According to a Sept. 20, 2015, article in The News-Dispatch, a total of six people from Nappanee were swept from the lighthouse pier while walking along the north side of the structure. The victims included three men and three women, one of whom was pregnant. The pregnant woman was rescued by Daray's crew. However, 24-year-old Earl Helmuth drowned. On Saturday, (Chief) Janney said Helmuth's death was a tragedy, but if not for the actions of the crew, two more people would have drowned. "The other thing interesting about this rescue is these are Coast Guard Reserve members," he explained. "They have other jobs, they have other responsibilities. They come in one weekend a month. You don't always have such a highly skilled crew as this." At the end of the ceremony, Daray presented his medal to Helmuth's parents. Daray said it was his way of showing them how much his crew shared their grief. — Story and photo by Matt Fritz, Staff Writer, The News Dispatch, Michigan City, Indiana Reprinted from a Sunday, March 20, 2016 Post to TheNewsDispatch.com Coast guard personnel hold up their award certifcates Saturday, March 19, 2016, during a ceremony at the Michigan City Coast guard Station. The men were honored for their efforts in rescuing two persons from the treacherous waters off the Michigan City Lighthouse Pier on Sept. 19, 2015. Pictured from left are BM1 Blaine Wilken, MK2 edward Schwager, BM3 Luke Josey, BM1 alex Harper and BM2 Michael daray. ReseRvist Magazine aRound the ReseRve Braving the Waves: Reservists Recognized For Life Saving Rescue 8 RESERVIST � Issue 2 • 2016

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