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U.S. Coast Guard Awards

John R. McGowan

Awarded 16 January 1969

For extreme and heroic daring on the afternoon of 29 April 1968 while on authorized liberty from the USCGC McLane (WHEC 146) when he rescued a young man who was in danger of drowning in the surf in the vicinity of Brazos Santiago Pass at Port Isabel, Texas.  SN McGowan, walking along the beach, heard a call for help from a distressed surfer who had been struck by his surfboard and momentarily stunned approximately 200 yards offshore.  Despite the 5-foot seas with severe current and undertow, SN McGowan, disregarding his own safety, immediately ran through the surf and swam out to the victim who was just regaining consciousness.  While calming and reassuring the youth, he began the arduous task of pulling him toward shore.  Hampered in this effort by the heavy surf, SN McGowan had to resort to ducking under the water and pushing the helpless victim with the sweep of the swells toward the beach.  Enroute he was joined by two fellow Coast Guardsmen whom he directed to assist a civilian rescuer who was being swept out to sea.  After getting the youth to safety, SN McGowan quickly summoned aid from the Coast Guard Station, Port Isabel and returned to the scene.  Observing several persons struggling in the turbulent surf, he again entered the water and helped pull an exhausted Coast Guardsman to the beach.  SN McGowan's outstanding courage, initiative, fortitude and unwavering devotion to duty, while endangering his life during this rescue, reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.

Last Modified 1/12/2016