Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class, U.S. Coast Guard
Duty Station: McKinleyville, Calif.
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
While off-duty on Sept. 13, 2014, U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Maxwell Kaczmarek noticed a man in distress approximately 150 yards from the shoreline in McKinleyville, Calif. Without any rescue gear, Kaczmarek immediately ran into the water and swam to the man to render assistance. When he reached the man, he realized two others were attempting rescue and were being pulled under water in the process. Kaczmarek gained control of the drowning individual, who weighed 280 pounds, freeing the other two individuals to swim to the safety of a nearby raft. Kaczmarek then towed the survivor 50 yards to a small buoy and instructed him to hold on. Once stable, Kaczmarek swam 100 yards back to the shore to retrieve a small inflatable and returned to the survivor at the buoy. He then towed the survivor 100 yards back to shore where he made a full recovery.