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  Coast Guard Foundation Honors Mission Excellence at 2016 Pacific Area Awards Dinner

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Rescue Swimmer to be Recognized for Bravery

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that they will recognize Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Darren J. Harrity at the Pacific Area Awards Dinner in San Francisco, California.

At 1:45 a.m. on July 21, 2015, United States Coast Guard Sector North Bend Command Center received a MAYDAY call from the commercial fishing vessel JAMIE K. The vessel had struck rocks and was rapidly taking on water near Cape Blanco, Oregon. The helicopter CGNR 6519 launched from North Bend and arrived on-scene within 45 minutes. The crew quickly observed that the JAMIE K was crushed against the rocks and that four fishermen were wearing survival suits in a life raft clinging to the bow. The conditions were rough and turbulent, and the wind was blowing at 35 knots. With the closest safe point of land 250 yards away, the aircrew prepared to deploy their rescue swimmer, when a powerful downdraft caused a main gearbox in the helicopter to over-torque. This should have caused the crew to abort, but they collectively decided to continue operations due to the urgency of the situation.


Petty Officer Harrity deployed and, after swimming the 100 yards through 48-degree water with 5-foot waves to the life raft, determined that no one was injured. Harrity then commenced towing each survivor one-by-one to the beach; swimming over one mile in the rescue effort. In high seas and pitch-black darkness, the rescue swimmer relied solely on the sound of surf breaking to guide him to shore and fought rip currents, vessel debris, kelp beds that fouled his fins and surface water covered in diesel oil. Within an hour, all four survivors and Harrity were safely ashore.

“The brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard are the very definition of the word ‘selfless’,” said Anne Brengle, president, Coast Guard Foundation. “Every day, these individuals put themselves in harms way so that others may live. Petty Officer Darren Harrity swam over a mile towing four people to safety in impossible conditions. To us this is almost superhuman, to Petty Officer Harrity and those like him, this is another day at work. We are honored to recognize the commitment and dedication of Petty Officer Harrity.”

The Coast Guard Foundation’s Pacific Area Awards Dinner will be held on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission Street, San Francisco, California. A cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner and the program following at 7 p.m. The topic of this year’s event is, Defending our Maritime Cyber Domain. Admiral Charles D. Michel, vice commandant of the United States Coast Guard and Christopher J. Wiernicki, chairman, president and CEO of the American Bureau of Shipping will be keynote speakers discussing emerging cyber threats and the need to improve protection and preparedness postures in shipboard and port environments.

To learn more about the Coast Guard Foundation or to help support its work, please visit or call (860) 535-0786.


WHO:        The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education, welfare and morale of all Coast Guard members and their families

WHAT:      Pacific Area Awards Dinner

WHEN:     Friday, September 23, 2016 – Cocktail Reception 6 p.m., Dinner and Program begin at 7 p.m.

WHERE:   Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission Street, San Francisco, California



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