U.S. Coast Guard Awards
Awarded 15 September 1937
On 22 June 1937 USCGC Pontchartrain was anchored in Poughkeepsie Harbor, NY attending the Poughkeepsie Regatta. Around 6:00 PM that same day, SN1 Andrew J. Donaldson, dressed in oilskins and rubber boots, fell into the water while trying to board the motor launch tied up at the Pontchartrain’s boat boom. His boots immediately filled with water and became so heavy that he went under twice.
BM2 Albert Lees, also dressed in oilskins and boots, jumped into the swift cuurent and reached Donaldson just before the imperiled man lost consciousness. SN2 Eugene E. Dailey, seeing that Lee was in grave danger of being sucked under on account of his own and of Donaldson’s water-filled boots, jumped in, fully dressed, swam to Lees, and assisted him I helping Donaldson up. SN2 Anthony S. DeVito saw the dangerous situation and dived in, swam with a life ring and a life jacket to the 3 men and helped them until the Coast Guard motor launch reached the scene shortly thereafter. Donaldson was unconscious when brought aboard the Pontchartrain.
Eyewitnesses believed that Lees undoubtedly saved Donaldson’s life and that both Donaldson and Lees were in grave danger when Dailey and DeVito came to assist them. The desperate and dauntless courage of the exhausted Lees in holding on to Donaldson, who was entirely under water, was magnificent and stirred the admiration of the guest who were viewing the boat races from the Pontchartrain.