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U.S. Coast Guard Awards


Fred Permenter

31 March 1952

On 5 April 1951, at St. George's Reef Light Station, Crescent City, CA, the station's motor launch, with five men aboard, was being lowered preparatory to a trip ashore when it capsized by heavy seas, throwing the men into the water.  At the time, there was a brisk wind, with heavy swells, and a choppy sea.  BMC Fred Permenter, USCG, immediately sent out a call for assistance and began operations to hoist the swamped launch.  A life raft was recovered from the launch and inflated.  Then Permenter climbed down to the base of the tower and, disregarding the heavy swells which might have dashed him against the rocks below, threw out the life raft and jumped approximately twenty feet into the sea.  Swimming after the raft, he gained it and climbed aboard.  Two of the men had reached a mooring buoy and were apparently safe, the other three had been carried some distance away from the light by the strong tide.  Permenter, paddling the raft, saw that two of the men were safe and went after a third man who was alive but unconscious.  Permenter pulled him aboard and then attempted to pick up a fourth man who was obviously dead.  Due to physical exhaustion, however, Permenter was unable to get him aboard and, after much effort, lashed the man in an upright position to the raft.  He continued, without success, his search for the fifth victim.  Some time later, a fishing boat arrived on the scene and all were taken aboard.

Last Modified 1/12/2016