Last Thursday, Coast Guard Reserve Senior Chief Boatswains Mate and Vermont State Police Senior Trooper Jonathan Graham was awarded the Vermont State Police Lifesaving Award for his heroic actions on July 30, 2009.
While on-duty as a State Trooper, Graham rescued a teenage girl who was trapped by the rain-swollen, fast-moving Black River in southeastern Vermont. The girl and two friends decided to go tubing in the river without life jackets and soon became overwhelmed by the rapidly flowing water. Although her friends made it safely to shore, the girl did not know how to swim and was stranded on a shoal about 50 feet from shore.
Likely influenced by his Coast Guard career, Graham responded to the radio call and jumped into action.
“The girl absolutely could not swim,” Graham said. “She told me she was sure she was going to die.”
Wearing the dry suit and a Coast Guard life jacket he has carried in his patrol car for over eight years, he tied himself to a rope being held by local firefighters on shore. Wading into the waist deep rushing water and carrying a second life jacket provided by the Weathersfield Fire Department, Graham made several attempts to reach the girl.
“The first three times, the water knocked me down, but the fourth time I was able to reach her and put a jacket on her,” Graham said.
Thanks to the quick action of Graham, the girl was safely rescued and required no medical attention.
While on-duty for the Coast Guard, Senior Chief Graham is stationed at Sector Boston as the Reserve Command Senior Chief.
Congratulations to Senior Chief for his dedication to duty and Semper Paratus actions.
Do you know someone in the Coast Guard that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit button at the top of the page.