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1988 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees



1988 Medal of Valor Honorees


Ocean Lifegaurd Jeff Pelton

In December, Jeff Pelton helped save five crewmembers of a sea urchin boat that sank off the Channel Islands.  Pelton, who was working as diver on the boat in the off-season, used his lifeguard training to help five of the eight crew members survive a 17-hour ordeal.


Hours passed as crewmembers clung to surfboards and fishing buoys.  When no help arrived and tow of the crewmembers had died, Pelton decided to look for help.  On a surfboard, Pelton paddled toward Santa Barbara Island fighting against very strong currents.  Before he reached the Island, Jeff was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter where he was picked up and he was able to direct the helicopter to his missing crewmembers for their rescue.

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Rex Goble

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Tracy Lizotte

On January 17th Rex Goble was working as a deckhand aboard Baywatch Del Rey when lifeguards received a report of two boaters trying unsuccessfully to maneuver their small sailboat behind the Marina Del Rey breakwater.  As the sailboat approached the harbor it was hit by a series of very large waves.


At first, Baywatch Del Rey attempted to tow the boat to the harbor, but a huge wave crashed over both boats.  The tow-line broke and the sailboat sunk, throwing the man and woman aboard into the churning seas.


Goble immediately grabbed two rescue tubes and dove into the ocean.  As Goble put the tubular flotation devices on the boaters, Lizotte and other lifeguards tried to swim through 20-foot swim to get to the victims.  Only Lizotte was able to make it past the huge surf; the others were forced back to shore.


As Lizotte swam to the boaters, Goble had to decide whether to swim the boaters back to the Baywatch or attempt to swim them through the huge surf.  It was decided that it was too dangerous to swim the victims back to the Baywatch and Lizotte and Goble must swim the victims toward shore.

Rescue Boat Lieutenant Wally Hapke

Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Brian Merrigan

On May 27th Wally Hapke and Brian Merrigan were working aboard Baywatch Redondo when they responded to a call that the Redondo Beach Monstad Pier was fully engulfed in fire.  Despite the best efforts of the firemen on the shore, they were unable to put out the fire because of the huge flames burning under the pier.


As Merrigan approached the burning pier he couldn’t tell how bad the fire was because strong winds were blowing the smoke toward them and the building on the pier blocked his view.  When he reached the pier and burning beams toppled around him, Merrigan directed the fire hose nozzle on the hot spots under the pier. But he couldn’t keep the water directed on one spot for too long because pressure from the water hitting the pier knocked the boat into the pilings.  So Hapke had to use all of his boat handling skills to keep the Baywatch properly placed to fight the fire. 


The efforts of Merrigan and Hapke greatly helped the other responding fire departments save the historic pier.




1988 Pelton
1988 Lizotte
1988 Merrigan
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