Coast Guard reservist receives Silver Star from governor

Darren G. Apiag, a firefighter for Guam Fire Department and Coast Guard reservist receives the Silver Star award from the Governor of Guam, the Honorable Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero, on Oct. 10, 2019. Apiag, along with crew members from the Guam Fire Dept. rescued a boy who fell 100 feet from the Jonestown overlook two days prior. (Coast Guard Courtesy photo)

A 15-year old boy fell off 100 feet from the Jonestown overlook in into the water Oct. 8, 2019, and the Guam Fire Department was quick to respond to the person in distress in Tamuning.

Aboard the Guam Fire rescue boat was Darren G. Apiag II. He serves the community in two capacities — firefighter for Guam Fire and a Coast Guard reserve petty officer 3rd class assigned to Station Apra Harbor.

“A super typhoon had just past, and we knew that we still had a high surf advisory in effect for Guam,” said Apiag. “We could see from where the fire station is to the area where the call came from that some white caps were slamming into the cliff area. We had some concerns if it was safe to get into the water or conduct a dive.”

Once the rescue crew arrived on the scene, they were relieved to see the boy still treading water in the distance.

“We couldn’t get the boat close enough to do shipboard pick up due to the sea state and the proximity to the reef.”

Apiag was given the go-ahead to enter the choppy waters and begin the water rescue by the rescue boat officer. “I came right up to the kid and asked him to remain calm and that I was here to help him. I swam back to the boat shortly after,” said Apiag.

“The boy’s first words after I got to him were, thank you.”

After the crew pulled the teen and Apiag back onto the boat, the rescue unit took them to Hagatna Marina, where an ambulance was waiting to get the boy back to the hospital.

Apiag grew up in the village of Inarajan. He has been a firefighter with Guam Fire Department since 2013 and he joined the Coast Guard Reserves in 2016.

“His professional presence is evident in his continued success not only as a Coast Guardsman but as a member of the Guam Fire Department,” said Capt. Christopher Chase, commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam.

Apiag was presented the Silver Star by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Oct. 10. The recognition took place at the Honorable Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex.

The award, authored by Gov. Guerrero, recognized Apiag for valorously distinguishing himself by displaying courage and bravery in the performance of his duties as a firefighter and surface swimmer. He placed himself at risk going above the call of duty to save a life during a life-threating situation.

“His dedication to duty has led him to save the life of a teenager of the community. This demonstrates the caliber of personnel that both Coast Guard Sector Guam and the Guam Fire Department have to offer,” said Chase.