Huntington, W.Va. - Jarvise Shelton and Kyle Hardman received the prestigious Gold Lifesaving Medal from the U.S. Coast Guard as a result of their bravery and self-sacrifice in saving numerous lives in 2012. This unique award can be given to both civilians and members of the military; today Shelton is the only living recipient of the award.
Shelton and Hardman were working aboard a towboat on the Upper Mississippi River near St. Louis, Mo. when they heard cries for help coming from three adults and two young children aboard a boat, drifting toward their location and in danger of being dragged beneath a fleet of river barges. Shelton and Hardman quickly launched their work boat and went to assist the civilians in distress.
After multiple attempts to throw a rescue line to the terrified family, both rescuers were ejected from their vessel. Shelton was able to maneuver himself back onto the bottom of the capsized boat to call for more help. Shelton pulled Hardman back onto the vessel where he had to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on his fallen shipmate, but was unsuccessful. Shelton then got into another boat and was able to save one of the civilians. The rest of the family was saved with help from a rescue boat by ring buoys attached to rescue lines.
Both Shelton and Hardman received the Gold Lifesaving Medal on May 24, 2013. Hardman’s family was present at the ceremony to accept the award on his behalf.
Since 1874, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued the medal less than 700 times, making it one of the rarest medals, awarded and the third oldest medal still being issued by the U.S. military.
After receiving the medal, Shelton was inspired to advance in his training and receive his Steersman License. Mountwest has accepted him into the Inland Waterways Academy program at no cost.
“This is the least we can do for a Gold Lifesaving Medal recipient," explained Captain John Whiteley, Director of Mountwest’s Inland Waterways Academy.
Shelton will begin taking classes at Mountwest this month.
Photo Caption: Jarvise Shelton, Gold Lifesaving Medal Recipient