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Coast Guardsman Gassan risks life to save another

U.S. Coast Guard Official SealImage via WikipediaSunday, October 31, 2010
Story last updated at 10/31/2010 - 11:52 am
By Klas Stolpe | JUNEAU EMPIRE
On Aug. 4, 2009, subsistence spear fisherman Trevor Richards' foot was caught in a rope strung from a raft to a rock set 20 feet below the surface of the cascading waterfall at Sweetheart Creek, 40 miles south of Juneau.
Swift currents of 35-degree water pushed him down as he stretched his body toward the surface light. His lungs ached for oxygen. His lips sucked water mixed with air as his body, conditioned for the rigors of being a Capital City Fire and Rescue paramedic, began to fatigue.
"I remember stretching my lips out to get just enough air and going under," Richards said. "I didn't think I could get another. I was thinking of my family. I was thinking that I didn't want them to grow up without a father and a husband. I was thinking my wife is going to be so mad at me for drowning."
On Friday, United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Mack A. Gassan was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal for preventing Richards' family from that horrific outcome, just days before.........
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