Former Cape Hatteras National Seashore employee receives U.S. Coast Guard Silver Lifesaving Medal

Silver Lifesaving Medal recipient Valerie Streiff stands next to U.S. Coast Guard Sector N.C. Commander Matt Baer. [NPS Photo]

Former Cape Hatteras National Seashore law enforcement ranger, Valerie Streiff, received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal Tuesday morning for her efforts to save visitors from a rip current on Oct. 18, 2020.

At the Silver Lifesaving Medal presentation event, held at U.S. Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet, the following award citation was read:

For heroic action on the afternoon of 18 October 2020, when a father and his ten-year-old son were swept out to sea by a rip current while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. As Ms. Streiff was patrolling the beach in her National Park Service vehicle, she heard the frantic screams of the father and son. Upon observing them being pulled out to sea by the rip current, she stopped the vehicle and immediately donned a life jacket and entered the dangerous sea, taking a float cushion with her. After swimming approximately 60 yards to reach the fatigued father and son she gave them the float cushion to provide relief from the constant struggle to keep their heads above water. Assessing the situation and seeing no other help in sight, she used her prior experience as a lifeguard to fight the dangerous conditions to return to shore while pulling the exhausted pair behind her. After swimming for nearly 30 minutes, she safely reached the beach with the survivors in stable condition. If not for her immediate and heroic efforts and putting her own life at risk for two complete strangers, their lives would have been lost. Her unselfish actions and valiant service reflect great credit upon herself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of humanitarian service.

Prior to the presentation of the Silver Lifesaving Medal, William Butler, the father whose life was saved by Ranger Streiff, expressed gratitude for her heroic actions the afternoon of Oct. 18, 2020. National Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger Valerie Streiff, U.S. Coast Guard Sector N.C. Commander Matt Baer and National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent David Hallac, also spoke at the event.