Annual event to honor Coast Guard heroes

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The Coast Guard Foundation announced the 2012 Coast Guard Foundation Award for Heroism will be presented to Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak for its rescue of 11 people in January.

The team will be honored Thursday at the 32nd annual Salute to the United States Coast Guard event in New York City.

On Jan. 24, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak was called into action to assist mariners of the 58-foot fishing vessel, Kimberly, in distress in treacherous weather conditions on Portage Bay.

The boat reported being grounded in ice and hypothermic conditions as the results of Category 3 hurricane level winds, 20-foot seas and heavy snow. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter launched to aid the mariners; but because of heavy wind they were unable to reach the Kimberly after several attempts.

Meanwhile, the station received a second mayday call from a 68-foot fishing vessel, Heritage, which was sinking on the west side of Kodiak Island. Helicopter crews launched to Heritage’s location and crewmembers were able to rescue the two people in the water. With the help of a good Samaritan vessel, they were also able to retrieve five people from a life raft floating nearby.

As the rescue was being performed at the sinking vessel, the struggle to reach the members of the Kimberly continued. When winds decreased enough for a safe rescue attempt, the subzero temperature demanded an immediate action. The crew deployed a hoist basket and determined those suffering from the most exposure to be hoisted first, successfully recovered all four people from the Kimberly, and brought them back to Kodiak to be treated by medical personnel.

Click here for information on and click here for an announcement that TV weatherman Al Roker will host the award ceremony.