AST2 Thomas Henry, a rescue swimmer stationed at North Bend, Oregon, received the Chester R. Bender award for heroism at the Coast Guard Foundation's 26th Annual Pacific Area Awards Dinner. Petty Officer Henry was honored for two harrowing air rescues he conducted last year. On March 25, 2010, Petty Officer Henry responded with the helicopter crew of CG-6514 to a distress call of four surfers pulled into a small enclave surrounded by steep cliffs and jagged rocks.
Pummeled by tumultuous waves and confronting the dangerously panicked surfers, he was sent into the water to hoist all four individually out of the water to safety despite peril and tremendous physical challenge. Petty Officer Henry was also honored for a courageous act performed on the evening of July 5, 2010 during a rescue of four people clinging to a 70-degree cliff, 120-feet above a beach. Demonstrating unwavering composure for more than 20 minutes, he bravely hung below the aircraft until he was safely delivered to a runway.
Petty Officer Henry demonstrated tremendous humility in accepting his award.
"I really appreciate this award, but there are hundreds of other rescue swimmers who would have done exactly the same thing," Henry said.
Petty Officer Thomas Henry accepts the Chester R. Bender Award for Heroism at the 26th Pacific Area Awards Dinner in San Diego, August 3, 2011.