Coast Guard Medal

Congress authorized the establishment of the Coast Guard Medal (Public Law 207 of the 81st Congress) on 4 August 1949.  The actual medal was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones of the United States Army's Institute of HeraldryAs designed, the seal of the Coast Guard appears in the center of a bronze octagon.  The seal is contained within a border of continuous cable.  The octagon shape is copied from the Soldier's Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and the seal in the center refers to Coast Guard service.  The border of continuous cable refers to both naval service and perfection of ideals in the service of man.  The medal's ribbon is decorated with central and edge stripes of light blue and centered on either half of the ribbon is a field of white containing three red stripes.  The colors were adapted from those of the Coast Guard seal.

The Coast Guard Medal is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces who, while serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard, distinguishes himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.  To justify this decoration, the individual must have performed a voluntary act of heroism in the face of great personal danger of such a magnitude that it stands out distinctly above normal expectations.

If you or someone you know has received a Coast Guard Medal and would like to be added to the list, please send a copy of your award to

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Date of Action:  31 December 1968  
Date of Award:  16 May 1969 

For heroism on the morning of 31 December 1968 as a copilot of a Coast Guard HH-52A helicopter engaged in the rescue of a stranded hunter from Sand Island, near Bridal Veil, Oregon.  Blowing snow, 65-knot winds, poor visibility, and air temperatures near zero prevented a rescue by vessel or helicopter on the first day. On the second day, despite continuously severe weather, the aircraft hovered between 10 and 50 feet above the Columbia River and air taxied to the island navigating by spotting surface aids.  On the second pass, one man was sighted leaning against a tree with the other hunter in a prone position.  Lacking a clear area for the hoist in the vicinity of the victims, the helicopter maneuvered approximately 60 yards upwind and hovered while Lieutenant ADDISON was lowered to the ground.  While the pilot searched for a clearing, Lieutenant ADDISON was guided by hand signals from the crewman to the location and although severely handicapped by the bitter cold, ascertained that one man had died and one was suffering from extreme exposure and frostbite in both legs.  He then persevered and reassured the hunter while simultaneously helping him to a nearby clearing where both men were hoisted to safety.  Lieutenant ADDISON demonstrated initiative, fortitude, and courage in spite of imminent personal danger.  His unselfish action and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.

Date of Action:  11 June 1967
Date of Award:  28 March 1968 

For heroism on the morning of 11 June 1967, while serving as a volunteer swimmer from the Coast Guard Loran Station, Hawaii, engaged in the rescue of three survivors from a downed Cessna 172 which had crashed in the ocean approximately 500 yards off Upolu Point, Hawaii. The victims, two men and two women, although injured, had managed to climb out of the plane which sank immediately in 80 feet of water. When advised of the ditching and location of the plane, Seaman AKANA and four teammates dived into the choppy, shark-infested waters and swam out to rescue the survivors.  When the four occupants of the plane were located, one was unconscious, one was bleeding profusely from a head wound, and two other persons were in apparent shock.  The rescuers then began assisting the survivors back to shore where they were treated by Coast Guard personnel.  Despite Seaman AKANA’s valiant efforts in immediately rendering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the unconscious victim, the man succumbed to his injuries.  Seaman AKANA demonstrated initiative, fortitude and daring in spite of imminent personal danger during the entire rescue mission.  His unselfish actions, courage, and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard. 

(Related Coast Guard Medal citations: Bennett, George G., Crisler, Lynn T., Olsen, Robert D. and Pearce, Robert E.)  

Date of Action:  25 May 1982
Date of Award:  18 October 1982 

Petty Officer ALESSANDRINI is cited for heroism on 25 May 1982 when he secured a towing hawser to the 186-foot M/V WESTPRO and assisted in the tow of a disabled boat with four persons on board to safety.  The WESTPRO was burning out of control and grounded on the east break wall of the Seward, Alaska boat harbor.  Following numerous explosions of dangerous chemicals that caused the evacuation of the north side of the City of Seward, Petty Officer ALESSANDRINI volunteered as coxswain of the small boat from USCGC CAPE JELLISON [WPB-95317].  As he brought the small boat alongside WESTPRO, his crewman secured the towing hawser to the burning ship and cut its anchor cable.  As CAPE JELLISON took WESTPRO in tow, Petty Officer ALESSANDRINI observed a disabled boat with four persons on board that was in danger of colliding with WESTPRO. With complete disregard for his own safety, Petty Officer ALESSANDRINI positioned the small boat so that a tow-line could be secured and the boat was towed to safety.  Petty Officer ALESSANDRINI demonstrated remarkable initiative, exceptional fortitude and seamanship throughout this incident.  His unselfish actions, courage, and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard. 

(Related Coast Guard Medal citation: Ray, Thomas A.)

Date of Action:  13 August 1967
Date of Award:  02 November 1967

For heroism on the afternoon of August 13, 1967 while serving as boat engineer on the CG-40462, engaged in the perilous rescue of four persons, two of whom were trapped inside a capsized pleasure craft, in the vicinity of Clatsop Spit on the Columbia River, Ilwaco, Washington.  The CG-40462, on safety patrol outside the bar, arrived within minutes, maneuvered alongside the overturned boat, rescued the two persons clinging to the top, and learned that two others were trapped inside.  Fireman AMBROSE unhesitatingly entered the 55o water in six-foot breaking swells.  When all attempts to right the boat failed, Fireman AMBROSE and another Coast Guardsman made repeated dives under the pleasure craft and, although hampered by entangling fish lines and fouled life preserves, removed the victims.  A man, suffering from shock, was placed in the rescue basket of a helicopter on-scene.  Fireman AMBROSE and his companion then returned and extricated a woman who had lost consciousness.  While awaiting the helicopter basket, Fireman AMBROSE began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the survivor. Fireman AMBROSE demonstrated initiative, fortitude and daring in spite of imminent personal danger.  His un-selfish actions, courage, and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.

(Related Coast Guard Medal citation: Brott, Lindley D.)  

Date of Action:   25 November 2000
Date of Award:  13 October 2001

Petty Officer AN is cited for extraordinary heroism on 25 November 2000 while assigned to USCGC STORIS (WMEC 38) during the rescue of nine Coast Guardsmen from the Bering Sea.  As a law enforcement team from STORIS was being launched over the side in the motor surfboat, the ship's aft davit arm snapped and all nine sailors were dropped into the freezing seas.  Without hesitation, Petty Officer AN dressed out in rescue swimmer gear and plunged into the turbulent waters where he quickly brought order to a chaotic scene.  The boarding crew was scattered the length of the ship and the three-ton small boat was slamming into the hull amidst a tangle of wire rope and broken metal.  Petty Officer AN calmed one crewman who was succumbing to hypothermia and towed the stunned man through six-foot swells to the ship's well deck, where he was hoisted aboard.  In order to get another man who was foundering near the stern, Petty Officer AN, with complete disregard for his own safety, unclipped his safety harness in order to safely navigate the perilous swim around the capsized small boat.  This left him at the mercy of the sea, with no possible assistance from those on deck.  He swam to the drowning man and, displaying herculean strength, pulled him from danger.  Only after seeing all hands safely aboard did Petty Officer AN climb out of the arctic waters, where he then collapsed due to the exhaustion and exposure.  Petty Officer AN demonstrated remarkable initiative, exceptional fortitude, and daring in spite of imminent personal danger in this rescue.  His courage and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

Date of Action:  29 April to 2 May 1969
Date of Award:  08 December 1969

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2) ANDERSON is cited for heroic conduct during the period 29 April to 2 May 1969 while serving as acting engineering officer of USCGC COURAGEOUS [WMEC-622] engaged in fire fighting operations for the gasoline and naphtha-laden tanker MOBIL APEX in Limetree Bay, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. With total disregard for his own safety, Chief Warrant Officer ANDERSON voluntarily boarded the burning vessel for initial evaluation of the fire.  Internal explosions were occurring in the stern section of the MOBIL APEX every ten minutes and towering flames were pouring from the after superstructure and one cargo tank of naphtha.  Determining that fire fighting would be impossible at this time, plans were made to attempt the operation the next morning when he again boarded the blazing MOBIL APEX and heroically directed the extremely hazardous mission. Through his dedicated efforts he contributed significantly to saving the stricken tanker.  Chief Warrant Officer ANDERSON’s exemplary courage and unwavering devotion to duty in spite of imminent personal danger reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.

(Related Coast Guard Medal citation: Helmer, George P. and Sanders, Charles H.)

Date of Action:   ? October 1994
Date of Award:  25 January 1995 

Citation not on file. 

(The following Coast Guardsmen also received the Meritorious Service Medal with “O” device for this rescue: CDR Michael M. Ashdown, SN John J. Conwell; BM1 Matthew Varhaug; and BM3 Bradley W. Venendall)

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