Aubrey C. Abrams, 50, retired Navy chief petty officer, saved Robert E. O’Hare, 19, midshipman, U.S. Navy, from drowning, Jacksonville, Florida, July 7, 1965. A helicopter containing O’Hare and three other men fell into the St. Johns River a quarter of a mile from the bank and, badly damaged, sank in water 15 feet deep. The aircraft lay on its side on the river bottom with the ends of two of the rotor blades projecting above the water. Abrams and a woman who was a nurse were fishing nearby and proceeded to the wreckage in a motorboat. They saw air bubbles at the surface. Abrams entered the water and, swimming about 23 feet, followed one of the rotor blades downward to the cabin of the helicopter. He found an opening in the fuselage, reached inside, and touched O’Hare, who was injured and unconscious. Abrams found O’Hare was caught in some way. Thrusting his head and shoulders through the opening, Abrams freed O’Hare by moving him back and forth and then drew him from the cabin. He took O’Hare to the surface 12 feet above and towed him to the boat. The nurse and another fisherman aided Abrams in getting O’Hare into the boat, where he was revived. Noting more air bubbles, Abrams re-entered the water in which he could see nothing. He probed about the wreckage during four submersions but found no one. When two policemen arrived and entered the water to look for the other men, Abrams, nearly exhausted, climbed into his boat and took O’Hare to the bank. O’Hare was hospitalized and recovered. The bodies of the three other men were recovered from the wreckage.
48227 – 5067