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Abram A. Heller


Distinguished Flying Cross

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Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross to Petty Officer Second Class Abram A. Heller, United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. On 23 March 2008, Petty Officer Heller demonstrated outstanding heroism and courage while serving as Rescue Swimmer on Coast Guard Helicopter 6566 during the rescue of survivors from the 192 ft F/V Alaska Ranger that sank 125 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Arriving on scene amidst blowing snow, 30 knot winds and 15 foot seas, and knowing that the survivors had very little time, Petty Officer Heller deployed in the frigid water and recovered three persons and had them hoisted into the helicopter. Continuing his search, Petty Officer Heller picked his way through the debris field and located two additional survivors entangled in fishing gear. Petty Officer Heller disentangled the two survivors and hoisted them to safety into the helicopter. Low on fuel and with five survivors filling the helicopter to capacity, Petty Officer Heller remained behind in the wind swept seas as CGNR 6566 departed the scene. Petty Officer Heller, alone and undaunted, assisted three additional, severely hypothermic survivors into a liferaft. Over the next hour, Petty Officer Heller worked to keep the survivors conscious. When another rescue helicopter arrived, and despite being severely hypothermic himself, Petty Officer Heller returned to the frigid water and placed each survivor, one at a time into the basket for recovery. Petty Officer Heller's actions, skill and valor were instrumental in saving eight Alaska Ranger survivors from certain death in the Bering Sea.

Action Date: March 23, 2008

Service: Coast Guard

Rank: Petty Officer Second Class