The Coast Guard announced Wednesday that the Association for Rescue at Sea selected Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Hylkema, a boatswain’s mate at Station Grays Harbor, to receive the 2016 AFRAS Gold Medal.
They say that the AFRAS Gold Medal is awarded annually to a Coast Guard enlisted member who “exhibited exceptional courage and heroism during a rescue at sea”.
Hylkema is being honored for his heroism for an October 2016 incident during the rescue of the sailing vessel Grace.
On October 6, the Grace was travelling from Tacoma to San Francisco, when it was caught in a storm off Long Beach.
The man on the Grace was being evacuated into the water wearing an immersion suit, when his legs became wrapped in a line, with only a life ring keeping his head above water.
Hylkema entered the rough water, swimming more than 150 feet to the man in order to cut him free, and he remained in the water as the lifeboat crew recovered the man.
“I’m honored daily to work with some of the finest men and women in the Coast Guard, and I am extremely proud of Hylkema’s heroism to freely give of himself in such a way as to bring honor to his family, those he serves with, and the Coast Guard,” said Chief Warrant Officer Cheston Evans, commanding officer, Station Grays Harbor.
The award will be presented to Hylkema at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2017.