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William D. Foreman


Coast Guard Medal

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The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Coast Guard Medal to Aviation Survival Technician Third Class William D. Foreman, United States Coast Guard, for heroism while serving as a rescue swimmer on Coast Guard HH60J helicopter 6026 on 28 February 2004. The aircrew was engaged in the night rescue of six persons from the M/V BOW MARINER that sank following an explosion of its 11,000 metric ton cargo of ethanol 50 miles east of Chincoteague, VA. The horrific explosion cast the ship's 27 crewmembers into frigid 43-degree water covered with a lethal combination of ethanol and diesel fuel. Understanding the ramifications of entering into the explosive environment, Petty Officer Foreman bravely volunteered to be hoisted down into the toxic water to affect the rescue of an unknown number of survivors in a damaged life raft. Once inside the raft, Petty Officer Foreman with disciplined composure in this toxic environment, conducted a comprehensive survey of the scene and triaged the victims. Realizing that the original plan to instruct the survivors on rescue basket operations would not work, Petty Officer Foreman made the courageous decision to remain on the raft to assist each survivor. His confident, unhurried manner overcame the multiple obstacles of language, aircraft noise, and chemical contamination while he lifted the survivors from the raft into the cold water for further transfer into the rescue basket. Disregarding his own personal welfare and experiencing extreme physical illness from the effects of prolonged exposure to the deadly chemicals and cold water, Petty Officer Foreman was able to execute the litter hoist of the last survivor. Once back in the helicopter Petty Officer Foreman's focus remained on the mission. At the hospital, before being admitted overnight for exposure, he was able to pass vital patient information to emergency room personnel in spite of his weakened state. Petty Officer Foreman saved six lives. His courage and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.

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

Action Date: 28-Feb-04

Service: Coast Guard