U.S. Coast Guard Awards
J. Horace Cranmer
James H. Cranmer
Barton P. Pharo
Awarded 22 October 1903
In recognition of the heroic conduct exhibited on 21 January 1903, in the rescue of 5 men from the wrecked barkentine Abiel Abbott, the following Life-Saving Service members received the Gold Lifesaving Medal: Keeper Isaac W. Truex and Surfmen J. Horace Cranmer, James H. Cranmer, Walter Pharo, Barton P. Pharo, A. B. Salmons, and C. V. Conklin of Shipbottom (NJ) Station and Keeper George Maths, and Surfmen W. E. Pharo and M.D. Kelly of Long Beach (NJ) Station.
The Abiel Abbott, out of Turks Island and headed for New York, stranded on Shipbottom Bar on the New Jersey coast about 500 yards from shore. On 20 January 1903 the night was dark and stormy and the sea was running high. At 8:15 PM a surfman on patrol discovered the wreck. The lifesavers soon assembled upon the beach, but with the intense darkness an attempt to launch a boat, in such a sea, would have been rash.
The surfmen, therefore, directed their efforts to establishing communication with the vessel by use of the Lyle gun. Several shots were fired and one of them carried a line on board the doomed craft. Heavy seas swept her decks and she had begun to break up. Her crew found it impossible to reach the line. During the night, four of the ship’s nine-man company lost their lives. By the morning the vessel had become a shattered hulk. The five remaining crewmen could be seen clinging to the top of the cabin.
At the first signs of dawn the lifesavers launched the surfboat. Though broken and jagged wreckage threatened the boat with every stroke of the oars, the surfmen pulled desperately for the wreck. In spite of this effort, the boat was beaten back upon the shore and the crew was nearly exhausted. When another attempt with the Lyle gun failed, the crew again put out in the surfboat. This time, however, they succeeded in reaching the shipwrecked men and safely brought them to the shore. Captain Abbott testified that he believed it impossible for the lifesavers to get to them. Furthermore, that they succeeded in doing so, he thought it was a miracle.