A Coast Guard officer from Nevada is being recognized for extraordinary bravery during an ocean rescue off the coast of Oregon.
Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., presented a special gold medal to Petty Officer Roman Baligad, a Gardnerville native and graduate of Douglas High School.
"He is an inspiration to all," Gibbons said at a ceremony in Washington Tuesday attended by Baligad's wife, Lynn, and son, Hayden, 8.
The U.S. Coast Guard earlier awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Medal to Baligad and others who aided in the daring rescue of four men from a sinking tugboat in December.
The gold medal was issued by the Association for Rescue at Sea, a non-profit foundation that awards it annually to an enlisted member of the Coast Guard for an extraordinary act of bravery during a rescue at sea.
The Coast Guard received a call early on Dec. 29 from Capt. Dennis Cooley, whose tugboat was being bombarded by 25-foot waves off the coast of Florence, Ore.
The tugboat's crew could not immediately dislodge a lifeboat and Michael Jenson was knocked into the water by a wave. Crewmate Monte Nelson dived after him, and two other men were also swept into the ocean.
Baligad was lowered by rope from a helicopter, aiming for Jenson. Battered by waves and unable to reach Jenson, Baligad disconnected himself and swam over to Jenson to lug him into a rescue basket.
Other crew members were rescued by boat, but Nelson, 44, could not be found. His body was located more than 30 hours later.