Robert W. Johnson helped to save R. Dean Holder from drowning, Crescent City, California, March 27, 1963. When Holder’s 40-foot fishing boat became inoperable in the Pacific Ocean, strong winds and currents carried the craft to 1,500 feet from shore, where the water was at least 25 feet deep between swells 10 to 12 feet high. Holder’s only companion was washed overboard. Noting the distressed vessel, Johnson, 38, fisherman, and another man put on life jackets and launched a 14-foot wooden boat equipped with oars, but one of the oarlocks broke shortly. The craft was swamped but was carried by a breaker to wadable water. After makeshift repair, the boat again was launched. Quartering into the breakers, Johnson and the other man rowed to within 10 feet of the disabled boat. Holder, 47, fisherman, threw them a line, and by it Johnson and the other man drew their boat near the larger craft, which pitched and tossed dangerously. Holder jumped into the small boat, which then had freeboard of only eight inches. Unable to turn the craft around, Johnson and the other man used their oars to keep the boat at the proper angle to the waves as the surf carried them backward, toward shore. At a point about 100 feet from shore, the boat again was swamped, but a breaker carried it to wadable water. Holder, Johnson, and the other man were aided to the beach.
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