Coast Guard Heroes: John F. McCormick

The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 14 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life-Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of John F. McCormick.

A wooden 52-foot motor lifeboat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A wooden 52-foot motor lifeboat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by Christopher Havern.

Boatswain John F. McCormick was officer-in-charge of the wooden 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph out of Station Point Adams at the mouth of the Columbia River. On March 26, 1938, Triumph proceeded out to the bar and stood by while several crab boats crossed in. The tug Tyee with a barge load of logs in tow was attempting to cross out. Tyee passed too closely to the lifebuoy and the barge drifted into the outer break on Clatsop Spit. While attempting to assist Tyee, Triumph was carried broadside on the face of a wave with the masts completely submerged.

The Point Adams Lifeboat Station in 1931. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Point Adams Lifeboat Station in 1931. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Surfman Richard O. Bracken had been washed overboard by the force of the sea. Bracken would have been drowned had it not been for the skill of McCormick and the cooperation of Chief Motor Machinist Mate Albert L. Olsen and Surfman Harold W. Lawrence. McCormick, acting with exceptional skill, maneuvered Triumph against the strong current, into the breakers and picked up the drowning man. Meanwhile, Olsen remained in the engine room during all these maneuvers while McCormick stayed at the controls under perilous conditions and Lawrence rendered commendable service.

For his heroic action in affecting the rescue of Surfman Bracken, John F. McCormick was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Nov. 7, 1938.

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  • Martin McCormick

    I am Martin McCormick, grandson of John F. McCormick. Clayton McCormick, my father, is his son. We are trying to find out more information about this. Clayton will be 89 years old this year. Not certain if this will happen in the near future or not?

  • Martin McCormick

    Is this where I an find out more information?

  • LT S. M. Young

    Martin,

    So happy you reached out to us! You can send us an email at social and we can connect you with more details.

    All our best!

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs