Linda L. Bean served as dinner chair for the Coast Guard Foundation's Tribute to the Coast Guard in our Nation's Capital in 2009 and sponsored the inaugural Tribute to the Coast Guard's First District in 2011.
She describes her connection to the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Foundation's "Are You One in a Million?" campaign below, where she tells how her son was rescued by the Coast Guard off the coast of Maine.
I'm going to tell you a little about my son, Kevin Clark who was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Maine in the mid-90s. I feel very privileged to be here; and my son does too. He's still with us. And it all happened in the mid-90s when he went windsurfing when he was 20 years old.
He went out into a storm on Labor Day with his brother. I got a call about 10:00 from his older brother, saying he didn't come in, he'd last seen him at 7:00 off Pine Point in Scarborough, Maine. He'd called the Coast Guard and they were out looking for him.
Of course, my heart started going into a very difficult time. I am a very firm believer in God, and I prayed that night. My husband and I waited and were encouraged with calls from the Coast Guard as people were out searching for him. Midnight came, and he still had not been found, but they said his board had not washed up on the shore, so that gave us hope that he was still alive out there with his surfboard.
Two o'clock came, and we got a call saying that they had to stop the search; at that point, they were going to continue at first light. There was a fishing boat off Cape Cod that needed their help and they knew where that was. They had still not found my son. It was very difficult.
About five o'clock my husband and I decided to drive down to see if he was discovered, they were going to bring him to Biddeford, the hospital down there. About an hour from my home, I got the most wonderful call that he had been sighted on a little ledge out there and he had been waving. It was the most joyous moment in my life.
And I have been ever so grateful for the US Coast Guard.
He told me that they couldn't see him because of the storm above; the airplanes were flying above him, he could hear them but he couldn't do anything. The current kept going out, he tried to get to the shore and he ditched the sail and just clung to the board, finally just drifting backward, he saw a lighthouse and thought maybe he could reach it.
He got a little bit of hypothermia and couldn't judge if the ledge he was seeing might be closer. But after a bit he discerned that and went through the surf to get on that little ledge. There was nothing on that ledge save for vegetation, but he stayed underneath his board and survived.
He was wearing a cut-off neoprene tank, so I have to think that at that time, it had a lot to do with saving his life. But the big debt that we owe is to the U.S. Coast Guard.