All of those who helped rescue a lobster fisherman, floating at sea for 12 hours after falling overboard in July, will be honored on Friday.
Commander of Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound Capt. Edward J. Cubanski will present a Meritorious Team Commendation to service members of Station Montauk on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Montauk Fire Department.
The fishermen who helped the Coast Guard search over 660-square-mile area — the size of 378,000 American football fields, the Coast Guard said — will also be recognized.
John Aldridge was not wearing a life jacket when he found 43 miles south of Montauk Point on July 24, 2013, by a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod. He went overboard while keeping watch on the Anna Mary, a 44-foot commercial fishing boat, overnight.
His fellow crew members reported him missing at about 6:30 a.m., sparking a massive search that lasted eight and a half hours. Without a life jacket, Aldridge made his own floatation device out of his boots and buoys.
A large community of commercial fishermen and lobstermen assisted in the search, in addition to two rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Montauk, two Coast Guard 87-foot rescue patrol boats, aircraft and two rescue helicopters from Cape Cod.
“The search and rescue coordination between the Coast Guard, its partner agencies and fishermen was exceptional. The fishing crews allowed us to search a much greater area,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Jason Walter, the officer in charge of Station Montauk, said at the time. “To find this man in the water after this much time is amazing.”
Aldridge was airlifted to Falmouth Hospital in Falmouth, Mass., where he was treated for exposure, hypothermia and dehydration, and he was back on Long Island the next day.