The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 14 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life-Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of John F. McCormick.
Written by Christopher Havern.
Boatswain John F. McCormick was officer-in-charge of the wooden 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph out of Station Point Adams at the mouth of the Columbia River. On March 26, 1938, Triumph proceeded out to the bar and stood by while several crab boats crossed in. The tug Tyee with a barge load of logs in tow was attempting to cross out. Tyee passed too closely to the lifebuoy and the barge drifted into the outer break on Clatsop Spit. While attempting to assist Tyee, Triumph was carried broadside on the face of a wave with the masts completely submerged.
Surfman Robert O. Bracken had been washed overboard by the force of the sea. Bracken would have been drowned had it not been for the skill of McCormick and the cooperation of Chief Motor Machinist Mate Albert L. Olsen and Surfman Harold W. Lawrence. McCormick, acting with exceptional skill, maneuvered Triumph against the strong current, into the breakers and picked up the drowning man. Meanwhile, Olsen remained in the engine room during all these maneuvers while McCormick stayed at the controls under perilous conditions and Lawrence rendered commendable service.
For his heroic action in affecting the rescue of Surfman Bracken, John F. McCormick was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Nov. 7, 1938.