Richard L. Trotter helped to save Melva J. and Stephen R. Downey and Christine L. Geisler from drowning, Oceanside, California, October 12, 1963. When a motorboat capsized in the Pacific Ocean just outside Oceanside Harbor, the five occupants were trapped beneath it in water 23 feet deep. As the craft pitched and tossed amid swells and breakers six feet high, Mrs. Geisler, 46, swam free, followed by her husband, and both clung to the partially-submerged hull. A Marine sergeant dived from a boat 300 feet away, swam to the capsized craft, and began a series of surface dives. A patrol boat emerged from the harbor and moved to within 10 feet of the overturned boat, where those aboard learned that three occupants still were missing. Trotter, 29, harbor patrolman, who had undressed to his underwear, entered the turbulent water and swam under the capsized craft. He located Mrs. Downey, 26, who had found breathing space near the bow. Trotter obtained a hold on her, took her to the surface, and clung to the hull. Mrs. Downey had lost consciousness. Jon W. Curtis, who also had undressed to his underwear, dived from the patrol boat and swam to them. He took Mrs. Downey from Trotter and swam with her to the patrol boat, where he quickly revived her. The sergeant surfaced alongside the capsized boat with Stephen, 9, who grasped Trotter around the neck and climbed onto his back. He clung there as Trotter aided Mrs. Geisler in maintaining her position on the hull of the pitching boat. After another dive, the sergeant took Stephen from Trotter and swam with him to the patrol boat. Mrs. Downey’s daughter, Teresa D., still was missing. Curtis re-entered the water and swam to the overturned craft, where on his fifth dive he found Teresa beneath a stern seat and pulled her free. Curtis surfaced with her and swam to the patrol boat, where he revived her. By means of a rope tossed to the overturned boat, where Trotter still was holding her on the heaving hull, Mrs. Geisler and her husband were drawn to the patrol boat. Another craft took Trotter aboard.
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