Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Tye Conklin saved four people and one dog during rescue missions in 2007, and he also kept a 73-foot fishing vessel from going under through quick thinking, using a piece of wood and part of a rubber boot to patch a gash in the hull.
He helped train new lifesavers during 27 day and night rescue swimmer training missions. And the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center is evaluating Conklin's prototype for an emergency recovery device to help rescue swimmers if their hoists fail.
Lt. Brad McNally, a pilot at the air station, notes that if he goes on a night mission in bad weather, he wants Conklin on his crew. "His professionalism and dedication to duty would be tremendous assets to have on any mission, especially one in bad conditions."
Even off duty, Conklin is focused on rescuing those in trouble, volunteering for the National Ski Patrol.
Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Clifford Keith says he'll always remember his first ocean rescue.
When the call about a swimmer in distress came June 3, 2007, Keith was the surf rescue swimmer on duty. At the beach, he found not one swimmer but five caught in a rip current about 100 yards from shore.
Keith first reached two teens and an 8-year-old girl, staying afloat together. Then he saw two men roughly 25 yards farther out.
Deciding the youngsters needed to be pulled to shore first, he struck out for the men, gave them a torpedo buoy, then returned to the children. After getting them to shore, he headed out again. But the exhausted men had lost the buoy and were drifting in the distance. Keith reached them, then signaled his line handler to pull them in.
KRGV Channel 5 reporter Rita Garcia recalls Keith saying, "I was so tired, but I kept going; I knew others needed my help."