The Awe-Inspiring Story Of The Newest & Youngest Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer

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The United States Coast Guard has a new rescue swimmer in its ranks — Petty Officer Third-Class Andrew Bishop. Wearing his official Coast Guard flight suit, Bishop got his official designation aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter after completing a search and rescue drill at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska. It’s an honorary title, however, since Andrew is currently just 8 years old.

But while it may only be an honorary title, it’s literally a dream come true for the young boy. Andrew was born with a rare, life-threatening medical condition. He is non-verbal, non-mobile, and has seizures, among other symptoms. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation Alaska & Washington, Andrew’s biggest wish of becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer was made a reality with a little help from the other rescue swimmers at Air Station Kodiak.

“Words cannot express the look on Andrew’s face during his time spent with us and we are proud to have such a wonderful addition to the Air Station family,” said Capt. Mark Morin, commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak.


Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning -- Andrew Bishop completes his basic air crewman training.

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning — Andrew Bishop completes his basic air crewman training.

Andrew Bishop got the idea after meeting a rescue swimmer stationed at Air Station Miami when he was in Florida two years ago for physical therapy. Once the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Coast Guard partnered up to make his dream come true, Andrew and his family were flown to Kodiak, Alaska, where they were greeted by a group of Coast Guard rescue swimmers. Andrew was paired up with Petty Officer 1st Class Keola Marfil to go through a modified training program.

“I’ve never been a part of a wish before,” Marfil said. “It’s amazing to see. …I just feel lucky to be a part of it, because it’s something that he’ll remember for the rest of his life and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

After completing the training, Andrew had one more task to perform before becoming an honorary rescue swimmer — going out with fellow Guardsmen to rescue a hiker in need of medical assistance.


Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning -- Andrew Bishop, 8, receives an Air Medal after completing his search and rescue mission.

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning — Andrew Bishop, 8, receives an Air Medal after completing his search and rescue mission.

Wearing his official Coast Guard flight suit, Andrew embarked on a search and rescue mission by helicopter. They hoisted the hiker, who had simulated injuries, to safety and performed CPR. When they landed back at Air Station Kodiak, the crew gave him an Air Medal for his brave rescue, and he was officially made an honorary Coast Guard rescue swimmer. He was given an official rescue swimmer number, and his name and rank as an honorary rescue swimmer will remain on display at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City.

“I think I’m probably in more awe than [Andrew] is,” said his father, T.J. Bishop. “He will talk about this forever. … He’ll never forget any of this.”

Andrew Bishop has to overcome a lot in life due to his medical condition, but he’s clearly shown that he is a fighter and has the bravery, tenacity, and honor to be a member of the United States Coast Guard. When other boys may have wished for something fun or entertaining, Andrew wanted to be counted among the brave men and women of the Armed Forces. However, it seems more like the Coast Guard is getting their inspiration from this amazing boy.

Watch Andrew Bishop’s amazing full story in video below!

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Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.