HONOLULU (KHON2) — FIfteen Ocean Safety Personnel were awarded Valor Honors in a virtual ceremony Friday morning.

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The City says it organized an awards program to recognize Ocean Safety Personnel for their heroic actions in the December 2019 Moi Hole and Banzai Pipeline rescues.

In December of 2019, Lifeguards rushed to rescue a 21-year old woman and a 19-year-old man who were swept into the water at Moi Hole near Kaena State Beach Park. City officials say the conditions were so dangerous that Ocean Safety personnel had to hold their breath for minutes to get in-and-out of the cave using only their fins to sweep the walls and blindly feel for the couple.

While both swimmers unfortunately passed away from the incident, the City says relatives expressed gratitude for the closure the lifeguards brought them.

In another incident that same month, a professional surfer wiped out on a wave. The surfer hit his head on his board, fracturing his skull and knocking him unconscious. Rescue Operator, Andrew Logreco, raced into the impact zone to retrieve the injured surfer. Upon finding the man, Logreco jumped from his water ski toward the submerged swimmer. The lifeguard resurfaced with the injured man, positioned him on the back of a second ski and brought him back to shore where EMS was able to administer further treatment.

As a result of actions like these, the City awarded lifeguards Miguel Baez, Jr., Noland Keaulana, Koa Ibarra, Kamakani Froiseth, Kory Romero, Kaimana Beauford, Darryl Terukina, Matthew Arakaki, Melanie Bartels, Rayden Keaulana, Taku Horie, Daniel Zukoski Brandon Martin and Jaron Chong for their service.

Honolulu officials also awarded Ocean Safety lifeguard Bryan Phillips with the City’s top honor of ‘Employee of the Year.’ Phillips, a rescue watercraft operator on the north shore, holds a 16-year career of ocean rescue service. Along with countless rescues, he organized a Junior Lifeguard Program to teach local children about practicing ocean safety. Phillips is also actively involved in the Ocean Safety’s union, where he helps negotiate pay raises and benefits for all of Honolulu’s lifeguards.

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