Skipper turned savior among Alaskans honored by Red Cross
A Kodiak fishing boat captain who refused to abandon his shipmates during its sinking last year was among nearly two dozen people honored Tuesday for acts of heroism last year across Alaska.
The Red Cross of Alaska recognized 20 individuals during the 19th annual Real Heroes Breakfast at the Hotel Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage. The event raises funds for the group while highlighting people nominated by fellow Alaskans for life-saving acts of bravery, quick-thinking, selflessness and skill.
"Every day, ordinary people roll up their sleeves and perform extraordinary acts of heroism," said Tanguy Libbrecht, the Red Cross of Alaska's CEO.
Skipper Christian Trosvig received the Marine Rescue Hero category for saving a crew member in July, when the fishing vessel Grayling took on water and capsized in Kupreanof Strait off the coast of Alaska's Raspberry Island.
After the crew made a distress call the Grayling rolled, throwing Trosvig and his three shipmates overboard. All but one fisherman -- Brandon, who became trapped in an air pocket on the sinking Grayling -- immediately made it to a rescue boat.
When Brandon appeared again, Trosvig jumped back into 40-degree water and swam through rough conditions to rescue him. Once aboard a rescue boat, Trosvig performed CPR and revived the fisherman. The Grayling's entire crew survived the incident.
"I was able to save a man's life and get my crew back to Kodiak -- it's just the greatest feeling in the world for what was going on and the situation," Trosvig said Tuesday. "It was very a desperate situation with the weather and all, and having Brandon trapped inside it was very gut-wrenching -- that was the longest 20 minutes of my life, waiting for him to come out of there."
Trosvig said the Grayling was recovered nine weeks later, but was a total loss. He's since purchased a new fishing vessel in Kodiak which he plans to call the Nordic Cross and use during the upcoming salmon season.
Trosvig thanked the American Red Cross of Alaska, the Coast Guard, his crew, and those aboard nearby vessels who came to his aid. He also thanked his wife, Ursula.
"She's just been so supportive and supporting my dreams as a Captain. Kinda had to have her permission and help to get this new vessel, and I love her and thank her for being by my side," said Trosvig.
There were many other heroes at the event, named in several categories by the Red Cross.
Other rescue honorees for 2017 included Nenana Fire Chief Joe Forness, named a Medical Rescue Hero for aiding a critically injured patient in a vehicle-snowmachine collision -- while Forness was heading to a hospital, suffering from chest pains which led him to undergo coronary bypass surgery.
Wilderness Rescue Hero Obadiah Jenkins of Homer rescued a capsized kayaker in August, while preparing for the Six Mile Creek Whitewater & Bluegrass Festival. Youth Good Samaritan Hero Losefa Riley John of Juneau, 14, saved a boy when he fell into Gold Creek during a hike, while Adult Good Samaritan hero Andrew Cunningham used a stand-up paddleboard to save two capsized tandem kayakers on Eklutna Lake in August.
Royal Suite Apartments resident Andrew Engelking was named a Fire Rescue Hero after jumping three stories and breaking his leg when the building burned last February, killing three people -- then catching his children and pregnant wife. Kimberly Dang, Breanna Love and Larry Davis with ConocoPhillips' Kuparuk operation were named Workplace Safety Heroes for stabilizing an employee who suffered a severe heart attack on the North Slope.
Chaplain Brian Phipps was named a Military/Law Enforcement Hero for organizing three funerals and other counseling services within Joint Base Elmendorf's Spartan Brigade during the second half of 2017.
Groups honored at the event included the Anchorage Police Department, which was recognized for stepping up to police the Seward Highway, and Juneau-based volunteer rescue group Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search or SEADOGS.
If you would like to nominate a hero for 2018, visit the Red Cross website.
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