Aviation Survival Technician Second Class (AST2) Abram A. Heller is a professional rescue swimmer with the United States Coast Guard. In the early hours of 23 March 2008, in arctic weather conditions, he single handedly rescued eight crew members of the foundered F/V Alaska Ranger. Having plunged into the waters to rescue survivors, he then gave up his place in the rescue helicopter to enable five rescuees to be taken to safety and waited on a liferaft for over one hour for the return of the helicopter, with three further rescuees whom he had pulled into it. In so doing, he was deemed to have acted over and above the standard expected of a professional rescuer, particularly on his first deployment. He was nominated for the Award by the United States.
Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen with Rescue Swimmer Abram A. Heller. Heller was awarded the 2009 International Maritime Organization Bravery At Sea Award for single-handedly rescuing 8 people in Arctic waters in March 2008. Click the image to read more.