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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2001

 

CONTACT: Matt Stout
(301) 713-3125

 

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AWARDS
GOLD MEDAL IN HEROISM TO LCDR MARK PICKETT

The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its Gold Medal in Heroism to LCDR Mark H. Pickett for "his exemplary courage and heroism in saving the lives of two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employees after the capsizing of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary R/V Ballena on November 4, 2000."

LCDR Pickett received the Gold Medal Award at the 53rd Annual Department of Commerce Awards Program held recently in Washington, DC. The citation states that, after the capsizing, "At significant personal risk, he returned to the icy waters to save the lives of his crew, USGS chief scientist Dr. Guy R. Cochran and USGS electronics/special projects technician Michael E. Boyle.

The R/V Ballena was engaged in routine sidescan sonar surveys near the coast when a rogue wave capsized the vessel, briefly trapping the men inside. After deployment and subsequent abandonment of a life raft, LCDR Pickett swam ashore and then returned to bring in both men, saving their lives."

LCDR Pickett, a NOAA Corps officer for 18 years, resides in Monterey and is an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory. Donald L. Evans, Secretary of Commerce, grants the Gold Medal--the Department's highest honorary award--for extraordinary achievements in support of the Department's critical objectives. These achievements have a significant beneficial effect on the nation, and sometimes the world.

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