1984 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees
1984 Medal of Valor Honoree
Lieutenant Tom Zahn
Tom Zahn is recognized for his 4-decades of lifeguard service, culminating in his retirement in May 1984. Except for a year-and-a-half overseas, while on duty in the Navy, Zahn has been patrolling the South Bay beaches.
Tom has won the Catalina-to-Manhattan Beach paddle board race five times and set a course record of 5 hours and 29 minutes in 1958. In addition he is a four-time winner of the Diamond Head, Hawaii Paddle Board Championships, the 1955 Makaha (Hawaii) Surfing Championship, the 1955 Australian International Rescue Board race and two-time winner of the Rough Water Swimming Championship sponsored by the Surf Life Saving Association of Hawaii. Tom has twice won the Hermosa-to-Manhattan Beach 2-mile rough water swim in his age group.
Tom’s personal highlights include rescuing the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz family in 1959 when the outrigger canoe they were in capsized, towing the yachts of some big-name Hollywood stars and rescuing more than 240 people last year.
In the last 10 years of his career Zahn rescued 1,634 people, responded to another 1,216 “boats-in-distress” calls and given first aid to 489 people, including 20 who had to be resuscitated.