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1999 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees



1999 Medal of Valor Honorees


Ocean Lifegaurd Specialist Tex Ribera

On March 24th, Tex Ribera was taking a run on the beach in Newport.  As he ran along the beach near the 28th Street Jetty, he noticed two swimmers in a rip.  He also noticed there were no lifeguards in the area.


Tex recognized that the two swimmers were in trouble.  He immediately removed his shirt and glasses and jumped in the water.  As he entered the water, a friend of the two swimmers decided to help and he too entered the water despite Te telling him several times not to do so.


As Tex reached the two swimmers, one of the victims, a girl, became unconscious.  He grabbed the girl, told her friend to hang on to her as he swam both victims to a nearby sandbar.  The third person was now, of course, caught in the same rip.  As he went by, Tex grabbed him by the arm and pulled him onto the sandbar.  He was told to keep his feet on the sandbar and to follow Tex to safety.


A police officer arrived just as Tex was coming out of the water.  He called the paramedics and the Newport Beach lifeguards.  Tex immediately began to perform CPR on the unconscious victim until the paramedics arrived.  When they did arrive, she was connected to a defibulater, given an I.V., and transported to a hospital where she made a full recovery.

1999 Lifetime Achievment Honoree


Director Department of Beaches Jerry Cunningham


Jerry Cunningham is the recipient of the 1999 Los Angeles County Lifeguard Achievement award.  Jerry became a beach lifeguard in July 1946.  He moved through the ranks, becoming a permanent lifeguard in 1951, a Lieutenant in 1964, a Captain in 1966, Deputy Director of the Department of Beaches in 1971, Assistant Director in 1975, and Director of the Department of Beaches in 1979.  He continued as Director until the merger between Beach and Harbors and retired in 1984.


Whether as a lifeguard on the beach or in command of the entire lifeguard operation, Jerry Cunningham did it all during his 36 years as a professional lifeguard.  He saved an incredible number of lives during his career. He promoted lifeguarding as a profession, created the framework for the current organization of the three sections, and was a leading advocate of the present safety series retirement.


He was an instructor at one time for all recurrent lifeguards, the President of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association as well as the National Surf Lifesaving Association. He was a leader in helping the Los Angeles County Lifeguards be recognized as the top lifeguard service in the country.


He spoke before the state legislature, wrote legislation and worked with every governmental agency, newspaper, and group that could possibly help the lifeguard organization and promote the health and safety of the beach going public.  He understood how government works.


Jerry was a competitor.  He swam and played water polo at Loyola High School, Loyola University, and Long Beach State.  He tried out for the Olympic Water Polo Team in 1948 and 1952 and played on the Junior and Senior National Championship Team during those years.  He competed for ten years in the World Bodysurfing championships and for twenty-five years in the annual Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim.


Jerry was a great ambassador for the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.  He always understood that strong, positive relationships as the single greatest resource of any organization.  As a result of these qualities and his leadership, individual lifeguards and the profession as a whole performed beyond everyone’s expectations.


1999 Cunningham
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