Skip Navigation


Security Levels


U.S. Coast Guard Awards



Awarded 25 April 1936

Official citation not on file.

Further details:

On March 24, 1935, the lookout at Point Adams Station reported a trolling vessel in distress of the South Jetty of the Columbia River.  The lifeboat made an attempt to render assistance from the sea but was forced to return to the station because of severe weather conditions then existing.  In the meantime, MoMM1c (L) James A. Conley, accompanied by Surfmen Lynn M. Clapp, Burton L. Shatto and Theodore T. Tibbitts, left the station in a private automobile and proceeded to Fort Stevens where they arranged for transportation to the South Jetty by means of a gasoline railroad speeder belonging to the U.S. Engineers.  The subsequent happenings are described in the following excerpts from affidavits of eye-witnesses:

"A speeder was in readiness upon arrival of the Coast Guard, and shortly afterward the crew was at the scene of the wreck. . .A southwest storm was on.  The wind velocity was about 65 miles per hour and a high surf was running.  The sea was breaking as far out as we could see. The trolling boat was in the break and rapidly drifting shoreward.  Every sea seemed to be breaking over her and finally she listed over until her masts seemed to touch the water, and she failed to right herself. Almost immediately a mass of wreckage appeared where I last saw her.  Lynn Clapp donned his life jacket and a light line was made fast around his waist.  With no hesitance he plunged into the surf, wading as far as possible and then swimming through the high breakers until he reached the man in distress.  After he first reached the man one high breaker tore them apart, but he again reached him and with the aid of the line he brought him safely to the beach.  The rescue party was well organized; there were no delays; no wrangling as to what was to be done or how it should be done. . .It required a man of exceptional strength and swimming ability to battle the high surf, and a man of plenty of 'guts' to attempt the feat.  Lynn Clapp proved that he had both."

"I suppose the men will give you the details of the location of the boat and the subsequent waiting and watching as the boat was tossed about in the huge seas.  To me it was a terrible suspense and then, finally not to see the boat right herself.  Wreckage began almost immediately coming in and long before my untrained eye could see a man the Coast Guard men had seen and given the survivor that which he needed -- a wave to show him that they were on the job and would rescue him.  I remained on the jetty so really had the best view of the rescue which was made from the beach below.  It is still a wonder to me how Mr. Clapp ever got thru those breakers.  His swimming was marvelous and his calmness throughout is to be highly commended.  Finally the man was reached and just as they started beachward a wave tore them apart, and again Mr. Clapp had reached him.  One thing especially stands out in my memory of the scene and could not be seen from the beach.  Mr. Clapp not only had the hazard of the surf and the cold to combat but there was danger from wreckage as well.  I held my breath as a huge timber topped a wave no distance from them and breathed a sigh of relief when it missed them.  Not only do I praise the Coast Guardsmen for the rescue but for their treatment of the survivor afterward.  They put him in the warmest part of the speeder and gave up their coats to protect his chilled body when they were wet and half frozen themselves. . .I believe the Coast Guard can be truly proud of Mr. Clapps's rescue of this man and may it always have such as he in its ranks."

The above narrative was printed in the article "Receives Life Saving Medal" in the U.S. Coast Guard Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 10 (August, 1936), p. 14.

Last Modified 1/12/2016