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Fisherman Rescued from Sea This Summer Thanks All Those Who Came To His Aid

John Aldridge made a full recovery thanks to efforts of 100 people — from Coast Guard crews to fellow fishermen — who search 1,100 square miles of water for him.

John Aldridge, the fisherman rescued in July, with all of the rescuers (who were in attendance) at the ceremony on Friday. Credit: Ali Flockerzi, PA3 U.S. Coast Guard
John Aldridge, the fisherman rescued in July, with all of the rescuers (who were in attendance) at the ceremony on Friday. Credit: Ali Flockerzi, PA3 U.S. Coast Guard
Standing before fishermen and Coast Guard members, each of whom had a hand in the large-scale rescue mission to save him, John Aldridge offered his gratitude on Friday night.

"You don't realize how tight of a community we have here until an incident like this happens. Everyone comes together. It's a great feeling," Aldridge said after a ceremony at the Montauk Fire Department where all those involved in the rescue were recognized.

Members of Coast Guard Station Montauk, as well as the dozens of fishermen who helped comb 1,100 square miles for Aldridge, were awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation.

“It is important that we recognize the numerous people involved in making this a successful rescue mission,” Capt. Edward J. Cubanski, commander, Sector Long Island Sound, said. “We owe thanks to the community members and port partners for their contributions in finding and bringing John home safely.”

Aldridge was found after 12 hours of floating at sea on July 24. A lobster fisherman aboard the Anna Mary, he fell in during an overnight watch. The boat's captain, Anthony Sosinski radioed into Sector Lond Island Sound Command Center when he realized Aldridge was missing at about 6:30 a.m. He last saw him at 9 p.m. the night before.

By reconstructing the voyage and analyzing the evidence on board, which included a broken handle on a cooler, the Coast Guard developed a search area of 1,100 square miles, which stretched from Montauk to 50 nautical miles offshore.

"Due to the vast size of the search area, assets flooded in to help," the commendation explains. Overall, a total of 100 people and 23 assets were organized in the search.

While Coast Guard Station Montauk was only required to have one boat ready to launch, the station immediately provided two additional boats. The East Hampton Town Marine Patrol, headed by Chief Ed Michels, covered for the Coast Guard back in Montauk. “The devotion to duty and the outstanding performance demonstrated by Station Montauk are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard,” Cubanski said.

The search also included air support with helicopter and fixed-wing planes from Air Station Cape Cod.

At about 3 p.m., a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew located Aldridge about 43 miles south of Montauk Point and rescued him. Without a life jacket, Aldridge kept afloat with his own floatation device out of his boots and buoys.

He was airlifted to Falmouth Hospital in Massachusetts, where he was treated for exposure, hypothermia and dehydration. He was back on Long Island the next day and made a full recovery. On Friday, he said he missed two fishing trips, but has been on the water ever since. "Sometimes I'll see a wave that reminds me of that night, but otherwise, I'm fine," he said.

Captains and crews from various local boats were honored Friday, but there were only about one-third of those who helped in attendance. They included; the Act I, Kimberly, Last Mango, Riandas, Leatherneck, Breakaway, Clover, New Species, Lady K, Cat and the Hat, Elizabeth II, Brook C, Hannah's Story, Viking Five Star, O'Brother, 2 Sea Sons, American Pride, and Billy the Kid, as well as unnamed boats under the direction of Frank Damm and Daniel J. Christman.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Sheriff's office were also recognized.

Sosinski, who organized the fishermen that came forward to help, was also honored. "I want to thank everybody in this room," he said. To the Coast Guard, he said, "You guys did a hell of a job. We count on you guys. We love you."
michael bassett December 17, 2013 at 05:43 PM
i read about it when it occurred got chills then and still get them it was such a great outcome such a good feeling hopefully it will be a book and a movie!! god bless all involved and merry christmas.
Gabe Gonsalves December 18, 2013 at 10:56 AM
It is always nice to have a good ending........great job to all who helped out!

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