U.S. Coast Guard
Awards Clarence S. Hall Ralph J. Keller
Clarence S. Hall
Ralph J. KellerAwarded 10 November 1947
On 14 and 15 October 1947, 69 survivors were rescued by the crew of the USCGC Bibb from the flying boat Bermuda Sky Queen, waterborne in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately midway between Labrador, Canada and the Irish Free State. Preliminary boat maneuvering tests on the morning of the 14th were seriously hampered by a strong wind, a rough sea, and water and air temperatures of 50 and 51 degrees, respectively.
At approximately 1836 on the 14th, a motor self-bailing surfboat was launched with a crew consisting of LTJG Clarence S. Hall, Boat Officer; LTJG Bernard S. Brown, Embarkation Officer tending the raft towed by the boat; Machinist Lindell Hall; GM1 John Johnston and Chief Motor Machinist Mate Harry La Fever, all of the US Coast Guard. At this time the wind had increased to approximately 39 knots, the sea had become very rough and darkness was fast approaching. During the following five hours or so, the boat made four trips to the Bermuda Sky Queen rescuing 14 survivors. Machinist Lindell Hall was replaced on the fourth trip by MM3 Philips V. Taylor, US Coast Guard. On the fourth and last trip the boat became completely awash, irreparably damaged, and some survivors were washed overboard but were rescued by members of the boat's crew and by BM1 Ralph Keller US Coast Guard, a member of a lifeboat unloading detail. Keller saw a woman washed overboard from the boat into the sea between the boat and the Bibb. He dropped into the water, braced his feet end hands against the side of the Bibb and back against the boat, thus preventing the survivor from being crushed between the boat and the Bibb. The survivor was passed back into the boat by Keller and was subsequently brought safely aboard the Bibb.
After completion of the fourth trip, the boat and raft were ordered cut loose and abandoned because of damaged condition. Shortly thereafter a Monomoy surfboat was launched, but before transferring survivors from plane to ship rescue operations were secured until the morning of the 15th when, under less adverse conditions, the remaining 25 survivors were safely transferred to the Bibb.