Skip Navigation


Security Levels


U.S. Coast Guard Awards 

David E. Sparks

Awarded on 18 May 1962

For extreme and heroic daring on the afternoon of 14 September 1961, while serving on watch at the Grand Haven South Pierhead Light, when he attempted to rescue a youth from drowning in Lake Michigan off of Grand Haven South Pier, Grand Haven, MI.  Two youths had walked out on the wave-washed pier, on which the Light Station is located, during high winds and seas, and safely arrived at the foghorn station.  BM2 Sparks, who was the watchstander, advised them to return to shore, because of the hazardous pier conditions.  They complied, but when they were halfway back to shore, several huge breakers come rolling across the wall, catching them unaware.  One youth was washed off the pier by the surging waves, estimated at ten to twelve feet high.  His companion was left clinging to helplessly to a catwalk stanchion.  Sparks, who had returned to the lighthouse, but was watching the pair, grabbed a life ring, ran to the scene and threw it to the struggling youth in the water.  When it was apparent that he could not reach the ring, Sparks quickly plunged into the heavy surf and struggled towards the drowning boy.  He had almost reached the victim when he saw his head disappear.  Immediately he dived under water in an attempt to reach him, but to no avail.  Sparks subsequently was unable to reach shore and was rescued by the CG-36470.  Sparks' outstanding courage, initiative, fortitude and unwavering devotion to duty, while endangering his life, during this attempted rescue reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.

Last Modified 1/12/2016