Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 14, 2011

Pikeview graduate is honored by Coast Guard

LASHMEET — A local man who grew up among West Virginia’s mountains will soon be recognized for his heroic actions while saving people trapped between fire and the sea.

Josh Perkins, a native of Lashmeet and 2002 graduate of PikeView High School, is scheduled to be honored Thursday along with his crew mates with the Coast Guard Foundation’s award for heroism.

Perkins, 27, is of part of a Station Chatham duty crew that responded quickly the evening of July 31, 2010 when they received an alarm about a ship in distress. He told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Tuesday that small boat crews like his stand by to answer alarms much the same way fire fighters do at their stations.

“We got the call 11:30 at night that a 42-foot yacht had caught fire in the engine room,” he said.

The fire knocked out the yacht’s power, leaving 11 people in the dark and with no radio. Fortunately, the Coast Guard crew was able to use radar and a global positioning system through a yacht passenger’s iPhone to locate the burning vessel, Perkins said.

Being able to react so quickly made a difference, foundation officials said.

“Their quick and precise actions and on-scene initiatives saved the lives of 11 people aboard a burning yacht just south of Wychmere Harbor, Mass.

The crew quickly responded to the middle-of-the-night call and arrived within 10 minutes,” according to foundation officials.

“Employing expert boat handling skills, the crew positioned the bow of their boat alongside the bow of the burning vessel. In the face of flames and intense heat, the crew removed all passengers from danger within six minutes of the arrival on the scene.”

The 27-foot Coast Guard boat arrived just before the stranded people had to make a dangerous decision.

“We made it to the scene before they had to get into the water,” he said.

While the night was pitch black and without a moon, the sea was calm, Perkins recalled. None of the rescued people were injured.

“Confronted with a life-threatening situation where every minute mattered, the crew demonstrated exceptional calm, focus and professionalism in their successful rescue,” foundation officials said.

Perkins said he joined the Coast Guard because he wanted to better himself and use the skills he has learned to save lives.

He plans to make Coast Guard service his career.

“It’s been good to me so far,” he said.

Perkins is married to Clarissa Matthews Perkins of Camp Creek. She is also a 2002 graduate of PikeView High School. They have two sons, Auldon and Bryson Perkins.

Josh Perkins is the son of Debra and Randy Perkins of Lashmeet.

Other members of the Coast Guard crew included Matthew Hussey (coxswain), Jason Martin (crew member), and Sherman Baldwin.

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