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G & H Towing Company Vice President Kirk Jackson, right, presents Kevin Kirk with the U.S. Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Medal for his heroic actions as a member of the crew that helped save a freight ship during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Nine G & H Towing Company crew members have been awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award in recognition of their heroic efforts during Hurricane Ike in 2008 that prevented a freight ship from striking the Interstate 610 bridge during the height of the storm.

The crew members from the HADEN II and the CLAXTON who received the awards are:

HADEN II – Captain Guy Pulliam, Engineer Edward Cox, Mate Kevin Kirk, Mate Training & Obs Nicholas Moraski, DEU Antonio Gonzales

CLAXTON – Captain Stephen Eickhorn, Engineer Jason Jones, Mate Paul Irvin and Deckhand Robert Stevens

The commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard states that in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2008, these G & H Towing Company crew members “risked personal safety while preventing an alIision between the freight ship RICKMERS SEOUL and the Interstate Highway 610 bridge during the height of Hurricane Ike.

“During the early morning hours that day, Hurricane Ike was at full strength bringing 100 mph winds and a 15-foot storm surge to the Houston ship channel. The 633 foot barge-bulk carrier RICKMERS SEOUL broke loose from its moorings. Despite the master's and crew's efforts, the RICKMERS SEOUL could not be controlled in the swift moving waters. Out of control, the vessel was in danger of striking loaded barges and the Interstate Highway 610 bridge over the ship channel. With the additional storm surge, the RICKMERS SEOUL would not clear this six-lane bridge.

“The HADEN II joined the CLAXTON along with three pushboats to push the RICKMERS SEOUL and avoid an alIision. With continued determination and despite the strong forces of the hurricane, they remained pushing against the vessel. Debris in the water was so intense that it began clogging the strainers and the crew had to work extra diligently to keep the strainers open and avoid engine failure. The masters of the tugs alternated their vessels as lead tug to continue operations while allowing the crews to clear the strainers. For several hours the HADEN II and the CLAXTON held the RICKMERS SEOUL in place just a few hundred feet from the bridge. In the end, all were safe and the winds and waters subsided allowing the vessel to be moored properly back in place.”

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