Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Ens. Roland Blake

Capt. Robert W. Warren, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan, presents Ensign Roland Blake with the Silver Life Saving Medal at the Coast Guard base in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015.  Blake, a Petty Officer at the time, received the award for rescuing a man caught in a strong surf zone and rip current at Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama, Nov. 9, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Capt. Robert W. Warren, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan, presents Ens. Roland Blake with the Silver Life Saving Medal at the Coast Guard base in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Blake, a petty officer at the time, received the award for rescuing a man caught in a strong surf zone and rip current at Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama, Nov. 9, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal is awarded to those who risk their lives to rescue or endeavor to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck or other perils in the water.

The award, which is just one tier lower than the gold lifesaving medal, comes with honor and distinction as it is presented to those men and women who truly embody the notion of service before self.

Ensign Roland Blake is one of those people.

Blake was awarded the medal recently for his heroic actions in risking his life to rescue a man from drowning in Bocas del Toro, Republic of Panama, in 2012.

While on deployment with a Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron detachment assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa, then Petty Officer Blake, who was enjoying liberty at Red Frog Beach, heard cries for help in the water nearby. He quickly discovered that a man was caught in a strong surf zone and a rip current. Without hesitation, Blake made his way through the surf, putting his own life at risk, reached the struggling man and helped him tread water before they attempted to make their way towards shore.

However, because of the strong rip current, making headway to reach shore was extremely difficult and they were slowly heading towards a rocky cliff. Blake fought on and was able to keep the man afloat while more helped arrived. With the extra help, he was able to finally get the man to shore after a half hour of intense swimming and battling the rough surf and current.

“I am very happy that I was able to help the gentleman that day in Panama,” said Blake. “We never know how we will respond to life threatening situations until we are actually face to face with them and I pray that if put in a similar situation I will be able to make the same decision again.”

Blake’s actions not only exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values, but they also serve to set an example for other members of the service.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

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