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U.S. Coast Guard Awards

Michael E. Earley

Awarded 7 June 1996

For extreme and heroic daring on the afternoon of 26 November 1995 when he rescued a 12-year old boy who had fallen from the Astoria-Megler Bridge into the frigid, swiftly flowing waters of the Columbia River.  Petty Officer Earley was on liberty and driving along the highway towards the bridge when he noticed several people on the bridge waving their arms.  When he stopped to offer assistance, he saw a young boy struggling to stay afloat in the strong flooding tide of the river.  Without hesitation, Petty Officer Earley hurried to the shoreline, tied a rope to his belt, and disregarding his own safety, plunged into the churning 52-degree water.  The victim, now 250 feet away, sank below the surface several times as he neared the limit of his endurance.  Petty Officer Earley courageously fought against the current and numbing cold for nearly 5 minutes, calling out assurances as he himself struggled with the fast moving current and the drag of his lifeline.  When he finally reached the victim, Petty Officer Earley calmly convinced the panic stricken youth to relax and lay on his back as he grabbed him and signaled for retrieval.  After being pulled ashore, Petty Officer Earley assisted in warming the victim prior to the arrival of an ambulance.  Petty Officer Earley's determined efforts, outstanding initiative, and fortitude during this rescue resulted in the saving of one life.  His unselfish actions and valiant service, despite imminent personal danger, reflect great credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of humanitarian service.

Last Modified 1/12/2016