“Hello, lifeguards!” Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe exclaimed as the crowd of more than 250 attendees began to cheer and burst into applause at the 2015 Lifeguard Medal of Valor Awards, held at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach on July 30.
Local officials, family, friends and colleagues were on hand to celebrate six outstanding LACoFD lifeguards, along with three private citizens, who were honored for their courageous and heroic acts that saved the lives of others. Medal of Valor winners Ocean Lifeguards Ed Butts and Nick Facer and Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Steve Sturdivant; Distinguished Service award winners Ocean Lifeguards Matt Samuel and Kari Scoggins; Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Ocean Lifeguard Scott Hubbell; and Special Recognition winners Natalie Anzivino, Brent Bowen and Kyle Dalbey all proudly accepted their awards presented by Knabe, Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Lifeguard Chief Steve Moseley and Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce President Michael Jackson.
The phrase “Medal of Valor” conjures up images of bravery and exceptional acts of heroism, and that truly applies to all of this year’s award recipients. Butts was recognized for his incredible rescue of two swimmers trapped by surging surf in a sea cave. Sturdivant was recognized for his unparalleled heroic acts on a dark and stormy night in Catalina, which included rescuing a stranded boater; saving Baywatch Avalon from significant damage and potential grounding; repeatedly entering the icy waters to rescue others; and finally, treating patients in the back of an ambulance despite suffering from hypothermia himself. Facer, who is also an engineer with the Torrance Fire Department, was nominated for his amazing rescue of a stranded surfer in dangerous conditions while on vacation in Ireland. Hubell received his Lifetime Achievement Award for his extraordinary contributions which have helped bring acclaim and recognition to lifeguards everywhere. To read more about these tremendous rescues and the International Surf Festival, click here.
While all of the recipients were recognized for their remarkable actions, they were extremely humble when accepting their awards.
“This medal is dedicated to one of our unsung heroes, recurrent Lifeguard Ben Francis, my brother-in-law, who passed away last week,” Butts said. “He was one of those lifeguards who always got the midnight calls for Dockweiler Beach and he would always be there.”
Sturdivant dedicated his award to the Avalon Harbor Patrol officer who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others during the same December storm.
The Lifeguard Medal of Valor Awards also served as a kickoff to the International Surf Festival.
“This event is one of my favorite events, out of all the awards programs we have,” Knabe said. “It’s always nice to be part of it. You can be assured you’re going to have a great time. It’s always a great night to recognize the heroic acts of these incredible men and women in the spirit of fun. I see the stories of the rescues ahead of time and it always amazes me. It doesn’t matter what our lifeguards are doing, one of these guys was even on vacation in Ireland. Wherever LACoFD lifeguards are, they just do what they do. If they see someone in trouble in the water, they just jump in there to help rescue them.”
Congratulations to all of this year’s award winners!
Featured image at top: The lifeguards celebrated six of their own and three civilians at the annual Lifeguard Medal of Valor awards dinner. From left: Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley; Fire Chief Daryl Osby; Medal of Valor winners Ocean Lifeguard Specialist Steve Sturdivant, Ocean Lifeguard Ed Butts and Ocean Lifeguard Nick Facer; Hawaiian lifeguard Butch Ukauka; Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Ocean Lifeguard Scott Hubbell; Jane Diehl of the Beach Cities Health District; Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce President Michael Jackson; and Supervisor Don Knabe. Photo by Douglas G. Morrison.