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2021 Surf Festival Dinner Honorees

2021 Medal of Valor Honoree

Avalon Harbor Patrol Officer William Flickinger

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William Flickinger

On Thursday September 24, 2020 William Flickinger, of the Avalon Harbor Patrol on Catalina Island, responded to a report of another Harbor Patrol vessel completely overturned, with its engine still engaged and spinning out of control, in reverse. After requesting backup from Avalon Harbor Patrol and L.A. County Lifeguard Baywatch paramedics, Flickinger, without regard to his own safety and while fully clothed, jumped into the water, dove under the spinning boat and pulled the unconscious fellow Harbor Patrol officer out of this life-threatening situation. With the assistance of other Harbor Patrol officers, the victim was rushed to the Green Pleasure Pier where Lifeguard paramedics treated him. The injured Harbor Patrol officer has since recovered from this harrowing experience as a direct result of the heroic lifesaving efforts of Harbor Patrol Officer Flickinger.

Flickinger 2021
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B & H 2021

2021 Distinguished Service Award



Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors

For over 80 years, the Beach Maintenance crews of Los Angeles County have maintained and protected the 75 miles of L.A. County coastline.  During the last 40 years, those duties have fallen under the responsibilities of the L.A. County Department of Beaches and Harbors.  Arriving before dawn, 365 days a year, the often-unsung men and women of the Operational Services Division keep the 75 miles of coastline and 25 miles of beaches in pristine condition.  They rake the sand, clean the restrooms, remove debris, maintain the facilities, repair, position and paint the lifeguard towers, in order to provide the over 55 million annual visitors to the beach a safe and welcoming environment. They successfully accomplish these tasks quietly, expertly, and with a pride of service, which is always on display.


We recognize, thank and salute the staff of the OSD, as well as the entire Department.

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COVID Team 2021

2021 Distinguished Service Award

Los Angeles County Fire Department COVID Response Team


In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles County Fire Department created a Special Response Team (SRT) to help supplement the efforts of the L.A. County Department of Public Health in addressing the Covid-19 crisis.  For the past 15 months, the SRT, primarily consisting of highly-trained Ocean Lifeguards (recurrent employees), staffed the numerous testing and vaccination sites available to the public throughout the County. From Pomona to Inglewood, these 70 Lifeguards, worked within a unified command structure and assisted with logistics, planning and set-up.  Their many years of dealing with emergency situations, including medical responses, combined with daily interactions with the public at the beach and their ability to work and solve problems on their own, were all major assets in the Covid-19 response efforts.  As a result, the Lifeguards unequivocally demonstrated that without their unique and professional skill set, the overall response by L.A. County would not have been as successful as it was. 


This Distinguished Service Award recognizes the talents and efforts of the SRT members.

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Ocean Lifeguard Lance Keene

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Rob McGowan 2021

2021 Lifeguard Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Lifeguard Captain Rob McGowan - Retired


Rob McGowan

Rob McGowan spent 41 years protecting the beachgoers of California before retiring as a Captain Ocean Lifeguard from the L.A. County Fire Department Lifeguard Division in 2009. He is currently the President of the International Surf Festival (ISF).

Throughout his career and following his retirement, Rob is active in groups whose mission it is to promote beach and ocean water safety, protection and enjoyment of the beaches, mentoring the next generation of aquatic lifesavers, while raising the awareness throughout the world of the important role of the professional Ocean Lifeguard. 

In 2009, Rob retired as the Southern Section Lifeguard Headquarters Captain, ending 40 years of working at the beach. However, if you were to include his time as an L.A. County Junior Guard starting at age nine, Robhas been actively involved in a professional lifeguarding environment for more than 60 years. 

Rob was promoted to Senior Ocean Lifeguard in 1984 and became a Captain Ocean Lifeguard in 1992. During his tenure, Rob worked every L.A. County Lifeguard Department section in the county, except Catalina Island.

Early in his career, as a recurrent (seasonal) lifeguard for L.A. County, Rob taught Junior Lifeguards at Zuma and Torrance Beaches. Several of his students would go on to become permanent ocean lifeguards and officers. Rob competed as a lifeguard, placing in the Taplin and Intracrew at the ISF, and in several other events at regional, national and international competitions. Swimming, paddling and Ironman events were his favorite. 

Rob has served and chaired the boards of the California Surf Lifesaving Association (CSLSA), as president, and as an executive committee member and Competition Committee Chair of the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). While serving the USLA, he had the honor to represent the United States in several international locations including Australia, Japan, Germany and South Africa. 

In addition to his role as President of the ISF, he also is the Event Coordinator for the popular ISF Lifeguard Events, a two-night display of ocean lifesaving prowess and athleticism from the lifeguards of L.A. County, and beaches throughout California, who compete against each other.  

Rob is the proud father of three sons, Morgan, Taylor, and Hunter and has one grandson, Carter. Morgan is a Huntington Beach City recurrent lifeguard, and Taylor is a recurrent L.A County Ocean Lifeguard. Both are assigned as Junior Lifeguard Instructors. They both are also schoolteachers. Hunter is a world traveler who works for a prominent nationally ranked accounting firm.

Rob recently moved from Manhattan Beach. He currently resides in Huntington Beach so he can be grandson adjacent. 

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