Friends remembered: Ronald Leon Diggins

friends remembered
Ronald Leon Diggins

Ronald Leon Diggins, 76, formerly of Milton-Freewater, Ore., died Dec. 26, 2016.  Diggins was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1969 for saving a worker from the burning structure of an off-shore well in the Gulf of Mexico near Grand Isle, La., on Aug. 21, 1968.  The man had climbed to the roof of the structure’s engine house and would not jump into the water, as other workers were doing, for rescue by boat and helicopter.  Diggins, then 28, the pilot of one of the responding helicopters, cautiously took his craft perilously close to the structure’s derrick, even though heat-created turbulence made control of it difficult.  The man leapt onto one of the helicopter’s pontoons, and Diggins immediately moved the craft away, keeping it tilted to counterbalance the man’s weight.  The man was severely burned but recovered.