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The highest award presented by USLA to a non-lifeguard is intended to give due recognition to those who have risked their lives to an extraordinary degree in a rescue or attempted rescue of another person (without familial relation to the rescuer). Together, the USLA and CSLSA salute their bravery, courage, and service to humanity.

2015 Heroic Act Award Recipient:

  • Gifford Price - Student, Junior Lifeguard, Huntington City Beach
  •        On Monday, October 6, 2014, Gifford Price, an eleven-year-old Huntington Christian School student and Junior Lifeguard, was waiting for the Junior Lifeguard Surf Camp to begin at Huntington State Beach when he was approached by a 16-year-old visitor who told him that his sister was in trouble. Gifford immediately took his surfboard and paddled out to the 14-year-old victim, telling her to grab onto his board. When Gifford was paddling out to the girl, the Surf Camp instructor noticed the struggling victim. John Prichard, a seasonal lifeguard, then began swimming out, reaching the victim who was hanging onto Gifford’s surfboard. He relieved Price and assisted the victim to shore. It was later learned that the 14-year-old girl was a visitor from Arizona, just enjoying the ocean when she was pulled out to sea. She said that she felt that she was going to pass-out just before Gifford arrived. Her brother, who realized she was in trouble saw that the lifeguards were quite a distance away, so looked around and saw Gifford with his surfboard. He knew that time was of the essence. Gifford did not hesitate when approached by the brother. His timely rescue more than likely saved the victim from going under. For that extraordinary action, the CSLSA and USLA awarded Gifford with the Heroic Acts Award, presented to him (with his family present) at the Spring, 2015 Board of Directors meeting in Newport Beach on April 9th.     Information provided by
  • Mike Becktold - Fire Captain, City of Coronado
  •        On July 7, 2014, Fire Captain Mike Becktold and his crew were among the first responders to a call of a swimmer in distress. In the darkness, Station 36’s firefighters could see a surf of six to eight foot and many rip tides. With no hesitation, Captain Becktold entered the water and provided aid to three people, including a 12-year-old boy. All were brought safely out of the water to the waiting paramedics. For Mike’s selfless and heroic action, the CSLSA and USLA awarded him with the 2015 Heroic Acts Award, presented during the October, 2015 Board of Directors’ meeting in Redondo Beach, CA.
    2014 Heroic Act Award Recipients:

  • Conner Reeves - Student, former Junior Lifeguard, Cal State, Huntington
  •        On March 2, 2013, Connor Reeves, a 17-year old Edison High School student and former Junior Lifeguard, was surfing Huntington State beach when he ran over an errant surfboard. Searching for the board’s owner, he noticed a man floating face down and not moving. After swimming to the man, Connor flipped him over and stabilized his neck on his surfboard before paddling him to shore. The surfer gained his airway and told Connor that he couldn’t move his arms or legs, as he had hit his head on a sand bar. The rescued surfer spent many weeks in the hospital suffering from a spinal injury. He was paralyzed for the first few weeks, but now is able to walk, sometimes with a cane. Connor’s extraordinary act of lifesaving has earned him CSLSA’s and USLA’s 2014 Heroic Acts Award.
  • Patrick and Danny Watson - Civilians, Father/Son, San Bernardino County
  •        On May 25, 2013, the Watson family were visiting Aliso Park beach in Laguna Beach when they saw a strong shorebreak wave knock a 1-year-old baby girl out of her mother’s arms. Patrick and his son Danny immediately jumped in the surf looking for the baby. Patrick finally located the baby as she passed by him underwater. After diving underwater, Patrick caught her and held her above water while big waves were pounding the shore. His wife Wendy describes the scene as "just two arms sticking up with the baby held up above". With Danny’s help, his father made it to shore, where the non-breathing baby coughed up water and started crying after Patrick gave her a few shakes. The baby made a full recovery, but the mother was in such shock that they forgot to exchange information. For Patrick and Danny’s selfless action, which certainly saved a life that day, the CSLSA and USLA bestow the Heroic Acts award.
    2013 Heroic Act Award Recipients:

  • Dave Shenbaum - Firefighter and Lifeguard, Manhattan Beach
  •        In November of 2012, Dave Shenbaum, Acting Battalion Chief for the Manhattan Beach Fire Department (and part-time lifeguard), responded to a report of a jumper off the Manhattan Beach pier. Upon arrival, Dave found a fisherman clinging to a rope while trying to hold a non-responding woman's head above water. Realizing that every moment counted, Dave shed his uniform and shoes and swam to the pair, where he found the woman unconscious and foaming at the mouth. He immediately gave the woman mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, then swam her to shore where paramedics were waiting. The woman’s heart was not beating, but when paramedics applied CPR, she revived. She was transported to a hospital where the next morning, miraculously, she was sitting up in bed and talking. Shenbaum is known within the fire department for deflecting credit to others, as he again did in this incident. He singled out the fisherman’s role in saving the woman’s life. "This guy unselfishly jumped into the water to save a woman’s life. When he got to her, she was just struggling to keep her head above water, and he got her back to that rope. As public servants, we get paid pretty well to put our lives on the line to protect and serve our community. But when someone from the public does it — it is such a selfless act of valor.” Shenbaum had previously received the Medal of Valor from the South Bay Chambers of Commerce for a nighttime pier jumb rescue in 2010. For his lifesaving act, the CSLSA and USLA voted to award Dave with their Heroic Acts Award.
  • Royce Butterfield - Civilian, Chino
  •        On November 24, 2012, Royce Butterfield, a pier fisherman, and his brother were walking on the Manhattan Beach pier around 10:30pm when they heard screams for help. Royce, describing himself as "not a very good swimmer", jumped into the 60 degree water and swam to a 49-year old woman who was struggling to keep her head above water. Meanwhile, his brother threw down a rope which Royce managed to get back to with the woman in tow. He was barely able to hold onto the rope and the woman when Shenbaum arrived. For this truly brave and selfless act of valor, Royce was honored with the Heroic Acts Award.

    USLA Heroic Act Award Recipients
         Recipients from California
          For a complete U.S. listing, CLICK HERE.

      Amy Di Chiro     2008
      Barrera, Richard     2001
      Brave, Dick     1999
      Brown, Brian     2010
      Butterfield, Royce     2013
      Castillo, Phil     2012
      Cherry, Scot     1997
      Dalton, Charity     1994
      Dalton, John     1998
      Davis, Alex     2011
      Foster, Logan     2012
      Hodson, Tad     1997
      Hoffman, Ryan     2010
      Kitmetto, Kiyo     1993
      Kruger, Blair     1997
      Linnen, Chuck     1994
      Lothian, Mackenzie     2005
      McFadden, David     1994
      O'Hara, John     1998
      Pena, Joseph     1990
      Pletch, Theresa     1990
      Price, Gifford     2015
      Reeves, Conner     2014
      Richards, Kevin     1990
      Rogers, Robert     1993
      Schwary, Brian     1994
      Shenbaum, Dave     2013
      Spheeris, Linda     1993
      Starky, Sean     2010
      Strickland, Brian     1997
      Sullivan, Terrance     1998
      Watson, Patrick and Danny     2014
      Weck, Roger     1997
      White, Kyle     2001
      Willis, Robert     1997
      Wright, Greg     2009

                 Heroic Acts Application form

                 Heroic Acts Policy/Procedure, including criteria required.