US Coast Guard Petty Officer (Ret.) Mitchell Lani received a Commendation Medal on Monday for his brave actions while training for deployment during the Korean War.
Lani was serving as a cook aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Forster in 1953, when a cable got caught in the ship’s propulsion system.
With the ship immobile in dangerous waters with 12-foot swells, the lifelong waterman jumped into action. After several hours and multiple life-threatening free dives, Lani succeeded in releasing the cable and freeing the vessel.
On Monday, coast guard personnel joined family and friends in formally recognizing Lani for his service and courageous actions 66 years ago.
US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was among the dignitaries on hand to recognize Lani for his heroic efforts. “In this country, each citizen is encouraged to do their part and to lend a helping hand for the betterment of others, their community, and their nation. Some go above and beyond in answering this call to service. Mitchell Lani is one such man,” said Rep. Gabbard at the awards ceremony. “Mitchell displayed bravery, strength, and fearlessness, motivated by aloha and love for his fellow Coasties, his country, and the people of Hawai‘i. We recognize and honor Mitchell for his care, heroism, and selfless service to our nation.”
Born and raised in Ho‘olehua, Moloka‘i, Mitchell Pau‘ole Lani grew up as a waterman in a family where diving and picking ‘opihi was a way of life. He now resides on Maui with his wife Florence, proudly enjoying his eight children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.