Rescuing the rescuer

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San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, left, shares highlights from Mike Beuoy’s Coast Guard service with the volunteers who showed up to make repairs to Beuoy’s Ocean Beach home, April 26, 2014.

Story and photos by PA3 Connie Terrell 

On an average day, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts 109 search and rescue cases, saves 10 lives and assists 192 people in distress.

But what happens when one of their own needs rescuing?

About 13 years ago Mike Beuoy was a Coast Guard aviation survival technician, also known as a rescue swimmer. Every day, he showed up to work at Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay, Calif., prepared to jump out of a helicopter to save lives.

“It was an honor and privilege to do what I did in the Coast Guard,” said Beuoy.  “I loved it.”

Then one day his life changed in a blink of an eye.

On his way to work one day in June 2000 another vehicle collided with his, sending his vehicle into a guardrail — the only thing stopping him from a 400-foot drop.  It left him with a spinal cord injury.

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel McDevitt, a Coast Guard Sector San Diego rescue swimmer, paints the house of former Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mike Beuoy during a Rebuilding Together event to help make Beuoy’s Ocean Beach house more accessible for him as well as make minor repairs he is unable to do.

Beuoy spent nearly a year in a wheelchair and four years wearing forearm crutches. Now, after years of rehabilitation, he is finally able to walk on his own again. However, he still doesn’t have feeling in part of his lower body and several muscles in his upper legs don’t work. Even though he’s “over the moon” about no longer being confined to a wheelchair or dependent upon crutches, his limited mobility still presents a challenge.

One of his biggest challenges is in the one place everyone should feel comfortable – their own home.  Even getting into his home presents a challenge. A large staircase leads up to Beuoy’s front door and about eight months ago he fell down the stairs.

To help one of their own, aviators from Coast Guard Sector San Diego spent April 26, 2014, helping an organization called Rebuilding Together get Beuoy’s house more accessible and performing repairs his injury left him unable to do himself. 

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Coast Guard Sector San Diego aviators talk with former Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mike Beuoy (green shirt) as they make repairs to his Ocean Beach home.

Beuoy said one of the biggest and most helpful improvements has been the stone pathway volunteers created so he can access his house more easily and safely.“I’m so amazed and humbled,” said Beuoy. “It really fills my heart.”With the Coast Guard being such a small service and the aviation community within also being a small, tight-knit group, it’s not unheard of for aviators to know just about every other aviator or at least know of them.

That was the case when Chief Petty Officer Dennis Moyer, the rescue swimmer shop supervisor at Coast Guard Sector San Diego, showed up.

He and Beuoy had never met before, but each had heard of the other.

“It was really unexpected and really, really cool to see him come out with his crew,” said Beuoy. 

During the event the Coast Guardsmen took a little time to meet Beuoy, listen to his story and even discuss their mutual love of hot rods.

Beuoy and the other Coast Guardsmen are planning for another meet up soon – this time without the sandpaper and paintbrushes.  

“I’m very fortunate,” said Beuoy.  “Every day I have to remind myself of that.”

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