Coast Guard presents award to heroic school teacher in Kodiak, Alaska

Blase Public Service Award

Cindy Blasé is presented a Public Service Commendation by Cmdr. Michael Mullen, executive officer, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, and Master Chief Petty Officer Chris Windnagle also of Air Station Kodiak, May 14, 2013, at Coast Guard Base Kodiak in Kodiak, Alaska. Blasé was recognized for her heroism in saving a father and child from a rip tide while in Puerto Rico in March 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

Cindy Blasé, a Kodiak-resident and local school teacher was presented with a Public Service Commendation during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Kodiak on May 14.Blasé was recognized for her heroic efforts to save two lives while vacationing in Puerto Rico in 2011.

Blasé was visiting friends in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, when she responded to a mother’s cries for help. The woman’s three children and were caught up in a rip current at the local beach where Blasé was boogie boarding. She immediately paddled her board to the closest child about 50-yards from shore as the child’s father also waded to the scene.

When Blasé arrived the child was clinging to the father’s neck and the depth of the water and undertow of the current had increased. Blasé swam to them to assist as they struggled against the current and were pulled under. She reached the child and using her boogie board, Blasé floated herself and the child back to shore while another good Samaritan on a surfboard helped the father back to shore. Additional rescuers assisted the other children and everyone made it back to shore safely.

“I was relieved everybody was alive including me,” said Blasé. “The waves were huge and the crashing of them was loud, we had to scream to be heard over them. The father didn’t swim well. He pulled me under four times before we got back to shore.”

Blasé was among six people who rendered assistance to the family including two other civilians, Lt. Jerod Glover, a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot, Navy Lt. Stephen Velthuis, Coast Guard chaplain at the air station and Chief Petty Officer Charles Mooney, supervisor at the Air Station Borinquen operations center. At the time, Blasé had been visiting Glover and his family who had been previously stationed in Kodiak, Alaska. All three civilian personnel were given Public Service Commendations on behalf of the Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Robert Papp and the military personnel were awarded Coast Guard Commendation Medals by the Air Station’s Commanding Officer Capt. Robert Phillips for their heroic actions.

“By all accounts, all of the folks responded immediately without any hesitation or regard for their own safety and due to their teamwork and coordination all the children were saved that day,” said Cmdr. Roberto Torres, operations officer, Air Station Borinquen.

Blasé was presented her award at the Billiken Theater aboard Coast Guard Base Kodiak in her hometown by Cmdr. Michael Mullen, executive officer, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak. The assembled crew of the air station congratulated her for her efforts as many of them know first hand the courage she mustered and displayed to put herself in harms way to save lives.

“I had put the whole event out of my mind and when I heard I was being given an award I thought it was kind of crazy,” said Blasé. “That was a really scary day but I just did what you’re supposed to do. It is nice to be acknowledge for it.”

The Coast Guard Public Service Award is one of several awards the Coats Guard presents to civilians whose actions honor the Coast Guard values. The Coast Guard Public Service Commendation is intended primarily to recognize personal and beneficial contributions to the Coast Guard’s responsibilities. Recipients are recognized for courage or initiative in advancing one or more Coast Guard missions and a beneficial contribution in one mission area or a limited geographical area.

For more information about Coast Guard Public Service Awards please visit our website.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,