The U.S. Coast Guard honored a southeastern Connecticut captain and his first mate after they helped rescue four fishermen from the rough waters of the Long Island sound in July.
Capt. Marc Berger and his son, first mate Michael Berger, were leading a fishing charter of six people on their boat, Lucky Strike, on July 21.
“Mike saw something that he said is out of place. He said ‘Turn around! Turn around!’ He said I see something doesn’t look right,” Capt. Berger said.
They found four people, in life jackets, struggling in the waters of Long Island Sound near Niantic, according to Berger.
“I couldn’t tell you how long it took. It just happened so fast,” first mate Berger said.
The Coast Guard said those four fishermen’s vessel took on water from crashing waves around 11 a.m., overtaking the bilge pump. They started to sink. The fishermen jumped into the water and were swept out to sea.
“Had we not gotten them, they would have been in the ferry lane and probably would have been run over by the ferry,” Capt. Berger said. “So it probably was a really good – really lucky thing that Mike saw them.”
Capt. Berger steered, Michael threw out a life ring.
“What I want you to do is one by one pull yourself through the boat and we pulled them through the door,” Capt. Berger said, recalling the rescue.
He and his son pulled each fisherman through a door at the back of the boat used to haul in fish. But the father-son duo said they were trained to handle this.
“Right place, right time,” Michael Berger said.
Both men were honored with a Certificate of Merit by the Coast Guard Thursday for their act of bravery.
“Amazing, amazing,” Berger said. “It’s a great honor to receive this award.”
The Coast Guard said the two treated the survivors for signs of hypothermia and transferred them to East Lyme Police rescue crews.
Marc Berger is the president of the Connecticut Charter Party Boat Association.
One of the people rescued went to kindergarten with Michael Berger. Another called Lucky Strike to say “thank you” and booked a charter with them.