Wednesday, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson presented the Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Award for Valor to 10 employees who have displayed “exceptional courage and valor” while serving DHS, its components, or off-duty.
Today we recognize Chief Petty Officer Jesse Meerscheidt, gunner’s mate, and the armory supervisor at Sector Corpus Christi, Texas, as being the first Coast Guard recipient of the Secretary’s Award for Valor.
Meerscheidt was recognized for the following actions:
The morning of Tuesday, October 8, 2013, Meerscheidt observed a head-on collision involving two vehicles on his way to work. One of the cars spun off the road and into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The other car rolled over twice and caught fire. Meerscheidt immediately attempted to put out the fire with his fire extinguisher and then broke the car’s window with his elbow to rescue the woman. Unable to free her and increasingly concerned for her welfare, Meerscheidt “bear hugged” the shattered window and removed it from its housing, successfully rescued the woman, and carried her to safety.
Prospective Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, attended on behalf of our service.
“It was an honor to share the stage with Secretary Johnson to recognize the courage and selflessness of Chief Meerscheidt,” said Neffenger. “He truly personifies the spirit and dedication of Coast Guard personnel everywhere who put themselves in harm’s way to save lives.”
The Secretary’s Award for Valor is the highest recognition from the Department of Homeland Security for extraordinary acts of valor.