SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, presented U.S. Border Patrol agent Javier M. López with the Silver Life Saving Medal Friday during a ceremony at Air Station Borinquen’s Community Center in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
López, who serves as a Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agent at Ramey Sector in Aguadilla, was awarded the Silver Life Saving Medal for his heroic actions in rescuing two people from drowning Aug. 27, 2011 at Jobos Beach, Isabela, Puerto Rico.
López noticed two people struggling to maintain their heads above water, clearly in distress. Without hesitation López ran towards the water, he obtained a flotation device from two children and continued running to an area of the beach known to be very dangerous due to a strong and deadly undertow. López entered the dangerous waters without any regard to his personal safety, aggressively swam towards the drowning couple and extended the flotation device within their grasp. The couple was able to cling to the device and pull themselves above water.
Due to the strong undertow, agent López could not pull the couple to the safety of shallower waters, yet he did not abandon them. Agent López battled the currents to keep the couple from drowning long enough for a nearby recreational vessel to come to their aid. Finally, the people onboard the vessel reached and pulled the couple out of the water ultimately saving their lives.
“Ramey Sector is proud of Agent Lopez’ actions on and off duty.” said Xavier Morales, Ramey Sector acting chief U.S. Border Patrol agent. “Border Patrol Agents often go above and beyond in all types of situations and it’s great when they are commended for their actions. The fact that Agent Lopez was commended by a partner agency makes this extra special. Knowing that two people are alive because of your actions must be a rewarding within itself, but receiving such an important medal for your actions, puts the icing on the cake. Agent Lopez is certainly living up to the Ramey Sector motto “Sentinels of the Caribbean”
The Silver Lifesaving Medal was created by congress in 1874 and is awarded to people who endanger their own lives while saving or attempting to save another from drowning, a shipwreck or other perils of the water. The Coast Guard is the ultimate award authority for the Silver Lifesaving Medal and can award the decorations to members of all military branches as well as civilians.