Medal of Operational Merit

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Presentation of the Medal of Operational Merit to (L to R) Russ Stauffer, Mel Manning and Peter Palmieri.  Photo by Auxiliarist Karen Miller

Three members of the Clearwater, Florida unit of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary received the Medal of Operational Merit for saving a women’s life on the water in Clearwater Harbor.

By Auxiliarist Karen Miller, Public Affairs Specialist

Auxiliarists Mel Manning, Peter Palmieri, and Russ Stauffer, were on an authorized Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol aboard Manning’s boat, Salty. While returning from the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of Clearwater Harbor, an Auxiliary lookout noticed two persons struggling in the water. Coxswain Manning quickly maneuvered the Auxiliary patrol vessel to the scene, where it was learned the persons in the water were a man and woman futilely struggling to remount a Personal Watercraft (PWC). The 62 year old woman had been ejected from the PWC and the man was ineffectively trying to assist her back onto her vessel.

It was apparent to Auxiliarist Manning and his crew that the victim was exhausted and in danger of going into shock or drowning from the frantic effort of trying to remount the PWC.

Coxswain Manning alerted Coast Guard Station Sand Key to the situation, maneuvered the Auxiliary vessel into position and began a rescue operation. Crew members Palmieri and Stauffer assisted the woman onto the Auxiliary patrol vessel, removing her from the dangerous situation, and transported her to Station Sand Key for medical assessment. After careful examination by the crew and after resting for approximately a half hour the woman was sufficiently recovered to safely make the trip back to her home dock.

Auxiliarists Manning, Palmieri and Stauffer exhibited exceptional competence and skillful seamanship by having an effective lookout and by safely and successfully conducting an emergency rescue that most likely saved the life of the ejected boater.

Upon receipt of the award, Manning said, “This is what we train for. Helping this victim and removing her from a life-threatening situation cannot be topped. Receiving this award is outstanding; performing the rescue was unbeatable.”

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  1. Mike Howland says:

    Great job!!! Couldn’t be prouder to call you’ll shipmates..

  2. Bill Hanlon says:

    Primary Mission – Saving Lives. Job well done!
    Semper Paratus.

  3. Jodie says:

    So proud of all of you!!!!

  4. BILL DOBEIS says:


  5. BILL DOBEIS says:

    This is what it is all about! Helping the public and saving lives. How proud I am to be a part of the USCG AUX. Great Job!

  6. Mark H. Crary says:

    BRAVO ZULU Team Clearwater!


    Oustanding, Great job on helping out. I am so proud of all of you

  8. Martin (marty) F Kruizenga says:

    I only hope when the time comes for me, that I can preform as

    efectively and proficently as these men did.

  9. Bill Rowe says:

    This is a really great story. I hope every member gets a chance to read this and think how they would respond in that situation. I am sure your Flotilla is very proud of these men. Just hearing things like this makes me proud to be in the USCG Auxiliary.

  10. Gene Rutkowski says:

    This is exactly what is good look out does and why we need to be attentive at all times. Never let your guard down. Recognizing the potential dangers and checking on the well being of the public is why we patrol. Train hard so you are ready when the need arises. So glad to be shipmate in the USCG AUX making a difference on every patrol. We are always watching and promoting safety. Bravo!!!

  11. Mike Houck says:

    Well done, Gents!

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