Curry County Sheriffs Capt. Mark Metcalf and Marine Reserve Deputy Mike Luzmoor say they were just doing their job when they battled huge waves last winter in a tiny boat to rescue a drowning fisherman off Gold Beach.
Their peers, however, call it heroic and recently awarded the two men medals of honor.
Metcalf and Luzmoor received Life Saver awards from the Oregon Peace Officers Association during a special award banquet dinner in Bend April 27.
I couldnt be more proud of these two guys, Curry County Sheriff Kent Owens said Thursday. They saw a man in trouble and went out to get him without regard for their own safety. Im really glad they were recognized for it.
Metcalf and Luzmoor saved the life of Jeffrey Don Everts, 43, of Medford, after his boat capsized in large waves at the mouth of the Rogue River in October.
The deputies launched their 21-foot marine safeboat and pushed through 12-foot waves breaking on the bar to find Everts clinging to his drift boat a quarter-mile off the coast. Everts was conscious and alert, but suffering from hypothermia after being in the ocean about 50 minutes, Metcalf said.
Everts fishing companion Orlando Virgil, 43, of Mesa, Ariz., died in the accident. The two deputies recovered his body shortly after rescuing Everts, Metcalf said.
Although it has been six months, the rescue remains vivid in Metcalfs and Luzmoors minds.
(Everts) had no lifejacket on and was tied up in monofilament fishing line when we got to him, Metcalf said. He wouldnt have made it if he hadnt hung on to his boat.
Luzmoor added, If we had waited another five minutes we would have had two dead bodies out there.
Metcalf agreed. If we hadnt done it, this man would have died.
This isnt the first time Metcalf has rescued a fisherman.
He and Sheriff Deputy Allen Boice rescued two men from individual commercial fishing vessels that had capsized at the Rogue River bar in 1987.
When asked how he summoned the courage in the recent rescue, Metcalf said his philosophy is simple: Courage is fear overpowered by prayer.
He added, When I signed on for this business, I did it to help people out any way I can.
I didnt do anything more special than someone else who has dedicated themselves to helping people.
Metcalf said he wouldnt have tried to rescue Everts without Luzmoor.
Hes the one who knows the boat and how to use it. I was just there to help out.
As for Luzmoor, he said. Id do it again if I had to.
He said receiving the Life Saver award means a lot to me. How many people can say they got something like this?
You can go your whole career and never get something like this. Its a neat thing.
Luzmoor gave Owens credit for allowing us to get the special training and boat we need to go out and do something like this.