U.S. Coast Guard Awards
Awarded 1 May 1878
A Gold Lifesaving Medal, was awarded to Captain Joseph Napier, keeper of Life-Boat Station No. 6, District No. 10, for the daring gallantry he displayed in rescuing the crew of the schooner D. G. Williams, near the harbor of Saint Joseph, MI on the 10 October 1877. The schooner lay stranded during a heavy gale on the outer bar, with the sea breaking over her, and her unfortunate crew of six men up in the rigging for safety. Captain Napier got together three volunteers, commandeered a boat, and pushed out for the wreck. At the first attempt the boat was capsized in the breakers. On the second try he reached the wreck and returned with two of the sailors. The third trip the boat was completely filled with water, but was bailed and again reached the vessel, bearing off two men. At the fourth attempt Captain Napier and his three assistants were thrown out of the boat by a furious surge and one of his legs was badly hurt. One of the men swam ashore. Another got a line flung to him from the wreck and was taken aboard. Captain Napier and the other man, clinging to the boat, succeeded in righting and bringing it alongside the schooner. They then took off the two remaining men of her crew, together with the man taken on board, and regained the shore in safety. On other occasions Captain Napier was known to have shown equal heroism on desperate seas. Most notable instance was his rescue of the crew of the schooner Merchant during a tempest in 1854. For this feat he was presented with a gold watch suitably inscribed by citizens of Chicago.