Coast Guard Pilot Gets Medal For Dramatic Rescue Of Boater

PORT ANGELES - A Coast Guard helicopter pilot who jumped into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to rescue a boater was awarded the Coast Guard Medal yesterday.

Lt. Alda Siebrands, 44, of George, Iowa, received the medal during a Veterans Day celebration at the Coast Guard station in this Olympic Peninsula community.

Two members of her helicopter crew - Lt. j.g. Erik Langenbacher, 26, of Remer, Minn., and Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Kevin Parkinson, 30, of Olympia - were awarded the Air Medal.

The Coast Guard Medal is awarded for acts of heroism not involving armed conflict. In the past 10 years, only four of the medals have been awarded to Coast Guard officers. The Air Medal is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in flight.

The three are being honored for their role in a rescue March 5 near Pillar Point, about 85 miles west-northwest of Seattle on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

A 12-foot boat with three men aboard overturned, and one man swam ashore to get help. Siebrands' helicopter, on a training mission nearby, was sent to help, and lifted one man out of the water in its basket.

The third man, suffering from severe hypothermia, was unable to get into the basket on his own, and was rescued by Siebrands, who jumped into the water and pulled him into the basket. He later died. The two other men survived.