To some in town, Randall Rice might seem like just another dad of two local school children, Ian, a 12-year-old sixth grader at Brown, and Mia, a 10-year-old fourth grader at Island Avenue School.
He is that. But he is also an enlisted member with the Coast Guard who, prior to being transfered from Cape Cod to the US Coast Guard Long Island Sector in New Haven, where he is currently working, was involved in a rescue that garnered him a prestigious award from the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS).
Rice was awarded the AFRAS Vice Admiral Thomas R. Sargent Gold Medal, which is presented annually to an enlisted member of the United States Coast Guard for an act of extraordinary bravery during a rescue at sea.
Here is the story, according to AFRAS:
Chief Warrant Officer Randall J. Rice of US Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod received the prestigious AFRAS Gold Medal for his heroic life-saving actions on 10 May 2011 while serving as rescue swimmer aboard Coast Guard Helicopter CG6004.
At approximately noon on said date, Rice and his crew launched from Air Station Cape Cod in response to a distress call received from the 45-foot sailing vessel EVA, located 150 nautical miles southeast of Cape Cod. Pounding seas and gale force winds had ripped the mast off the vessel and shattered the windows endangering the lives of the crew. The surrounding waters and deck were littered with sails, lines and debris.
Arriving at an updated position relayed from a concurrently launched HU-25 Aircraft, and unable to establish communications with the vessel, Rice and his crew conducted a search to locate S/V EVA in the tossing 20-30 foot waves. Rice eventually spotted the vessel and vectored the pilot into position.
The aircraft commander initially made the decision not to deploy the rescue swimmer due to numerous hazards in the water, but after further assessment it was determined that deployment was required in order to save the two crewmen – one having sustained a back injury. Chief Warrant Officer Rice entered the water, maneuvered through the 30-foot swells and debris to the vessel and climbed aboard. He quickly cleared the deck of rubble and prepared for two basket hoists of the crew. He meticulously executed each hoist from the deck of EVA as the thrashing waves and raging winds battered the vessel. His swift actions were instrumental in the saving of two lives.
Chief Warrant Officer Rice’s courage, judgment, and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
The Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc. (AFRAS) held its annual awards ceremony and reception on 4 October 2012. The event took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C. and was co-hosted by the Honorable Howard Coble, co-chairman, U.S. Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. AFRAS awarded the Gold Medal, the Silver Medal and the Amver (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) plaque for outstanding rescues made in 2011. The Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS) is a non-profit foundation with charitable status, which supports services concerned with saving lives at sea.
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