Bookmark and Share

Jacob Carawan


Coast Guard Medal

See more recipients of this award

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Coast Guard Medal to Petty Officer First Class Jacob Carawan, United States Coast Guard, for heroism during the rescue of an 80-year old woman from her completely submerged automobile in the Cape Fear River near Southport, North Carolina, on the morning of 10 May 2003. As the woman attempted to park her car by a wharf, the brakes failed, causing the vehicle to plunge over the edge and into the water. The car immediately sank beneath the surface where she was trapped inside and unable to escape. Petty Officer Carawan and two other crewmembers had just departed an adjacent pier for a Homeland Security patrol when they heard a loud crash behind them. Just as they looked over their shoulders, a call came over the marine band radio notifying them of the incident. They immediately turned around and moored the small boat. Petty Officer Carawan and one other crewmember without the aid of additional rescue gear, quickly entered the water and created an ad hoc plan to extricate the woman from the vehicle. They made repeated free dives, courageously attempting to remove her from the car. After several unsuccessful attempts to open the car, they finally managed to force the driver's side door ajar. With zero visibility in the murky water, it was decided that it was too dangerous to swim into the car to unlatch the seat belt. Petty Officer Carawan then took a knife provided by an onlooker, dove back down, and cut the shoulder and lap belts freeing the woman who floated unconscious to the roof of the car. After several more dives, they finally pulled her out of the vehicle and to the surface. Petty Officer Carawan assisted his fellow crewmember as they towed her in a swimmers carry position to the pier where she was provided life saving first aid that eventually revived her. Petty Officer Carawan demonstrated remarkable initiative, exceptional fortitude, and daring in spite of imminent personal danger during this rescue. His courage and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

General Orders: U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office

Action Date: 10-May-03

Service: Coast Guard

Rank: Petty Officer First Class