Robert J. Gray helped to save John J. Meilbeck from drowning, Sebastian, Florida, March 7, 1969. When his boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, Meilbeck, 60, clung to the overturned craft as it was carried seaward. On shore, Gray, 19, student, and another man were apprised of the situation and went to Meilbeck’s aid. They swam after the drifting boat and overtook it about a quarter-mile from shore. Along the way Gray retrieved a fuel tank floating at the surface. Expecting that a rescue helicopter would soon arrive, Gray and the other man remained with Meilbeck at the overturned craft as it drifted farther seaward, sinking slowly until it was almost completely underwater. Gray and the others decided not to wait any longer. They started to swim toward the beach, but Meilbeck was too tired and cold. With Meilbeck using the fuel tank for support, Gray and the other man took hold of him and swam shoreward. After towing Meilbeck for about an hour, they reached a submerged sandbar. All waded ashore, very tired and cold from having been in the water so long.
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