Foster apparently has made a habit of saving lives on the open seas.
Foster, a 46-year-old Aleut fisherman
from Sand Point in the eastern Aleutians, and his crew of three
rescued the crew of a sinking fishing vessel in the North Pacific
Ocean in February, according to a citation by the Alaska Legislature.
Foster and his crew pulled off a "daring
midnight rescue," the Legislature said in its commendation
It was not the first time Foster plucked
people from a churning ocean. Twice in 1980, Foster saved men whose
boats had rolled and sank.
Foster and his crew, which included his
son, Dwain "Tony" Foster, were fishing from his vessel
Temptation on the night of Feb. 17 near Sanak Island. Shortly before
midnight, they learned that another vessel, the Tradewind, had capsized
35 miles south of King Cove on the Alaska Peninsula.
When Dwain Foster and his men reached
the Tradewind 25 minutes later, its three crewmen, led by Foster's
nephew, John Foster Jr., were clinging to the submerged hull.
The three never had time to don protective
suits. Winds of 35 mph, below-freezing temperatures and swells of
8 to 10 feet put them in extreme danger, according to the Aleutians
The risk of getting entangled with the
Tradewind's rigging, however, prevented the elder Foster and his
crew from closing in on the submerged vessel, so they threw the
three men a line and dragged them to safety.
Lt. Cmdr. Sue Workman of the US Coast
Guard said the three likely would have died had it not been for
Foster's quick arrival.
On Feb. 17, 1980, Foster and his crew
were crabbing near Pavlov Bay on the south side of the Alaska Peninsula
when they got a mayday call from the Oregon Dawn, another crabber
a few miles away.
As they would do exactly 22 years later,
Foster and his crew quickly covered the distance and spotted the
crew sitting on an upturned hull. Winds howled at 80 mph, and it
was impossible to get close to the sinking vessel. But then the
Oregon Dawn's life raft broke free and its crew climbed in.
Foster and his men pulled the victims
In October 1980, another crabber sank
near Beaver Bay in fierce winds and high seas. When Foster and his
crew initially arrived, they could not see the crew, who were tied
to buoys. Eventually they spotted them and pulled them to safety.
Rep. Carl Moses noted the islands' seagoing
traditions in the legislative citation honoring Foster: "Since
time immemorial," Moses wrote, "Aleuts have been the greatest
seafarers in the world and have taken care of one another."