Richard W. Holmes, 14, school-boy, saved Grace A. Munro and Ida K. Colitz, 58 and 54, respectively, from drowning, Barrington, Rhode Island, September 21, 1938. When the Warren River overflowed its banks during a hurricane, Mrs. Munro, Mrs. Colitz, and Holmes started through a wooded area dense with underbrush toward higher ground. The water rose rapidly; and changing their direction, they with great difficulty waded toward a house. Several times the women lost their footing, and Holmes aided them. Holmes and Mrs. Colitz finally reached the house and entered it. Mrs. Munro, who was winded and in water four feet deep, clung to a post 60 feet from the house. In the worst of the wind Holmes waded and then swam 30 feet to Mrs. Munro, got onto a section of a boardwalk 10 feet long and three feet wide that drifted against the post, and aided Mrs. Munro onto it. It served as a raft, and soon thereafter it rapidly drifted farther from the house and lodged against trees in the wooded area they had left. The water was then eight to 10 feet deep. Fearing the house would collapse, Mrs. Colitz re-entered the water; and after swimming and drifting 390 feet, she reached the raft. At that moment she was struck on the head by debris and knocked unconscious. Holmes pulled her onto the raft and helped to revive her. Night was approaching, and Holmes feared for the safety of the women if they were not removed from the raft, especially if conditions became worse. Despite the protests of the women of the danger, Holmes left to get aid. With great difficulty he swam and drifted 300 feet through the wooded area, stopping at bushes and trees to avoid debris. He gradually removed all his clothing except his trunks. In open fields he then swam300 feet farther to water four feet deep and then waded out and summoned aid. Soon thereafter the water fell rapidly; and when water was but a foot deep, men waded to the women. They were exhausted and hysterical but recovered. Holmes was weak and sustained bruises and scratches on his face, body, arms, and legs.
37481 – 312237481-3122