William H. Willis, Jr., helped to save Arthur B. Rivers from drowning, Swansboro, North Carolina, August 13, 1931. While wading in the Atlantic Ocean at Bear Beach, Rivers, 33, lost his footing in rough water and a strong undertow and was carried to a point about 900 feet from shore. William, 16, schoolboy, ran one mile to the shore. After other swimmers delayed to attempt to render aid, William, who was not accustomed to ocean swimming, removed his outer clothing and then swam, pushing a life preserver ahead of him, toward Rivers. A man swam beside him, also pushing a life preserver ahead of him. After swimming 700 feet, William and the man reached Rivers and placed one of the life preservers under him. Almost immediately William and the man, who were about exhausted, were tossed by a wave, and they swam a few feet to the other life preserver, which had been tossed out of their reach. Feeling unable to render Rivers further aid, they then swam toward shore. Progress was difficult, and William soon left the life preserver and with great exertion swam more than 700 feet to wadable water. He then waded to shore. He was temporarily exhausted. The man also swam to shore. Rivers held to the life preserver as he drifted closer to shore and then was rescued by another man.
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