CLEVELAND — Saving a life is always a possibility when serving on Lake Erie with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Scott Sjostrom, a native of Conneaut stationed in Cleveland, was recently honored for helping save numerous lives this past summer. He is a boatswain’s mate first class and served as the coxswain and as a crew member on numerous rescue operations during the busy summer of 2020.
“On June 10, 2020, he was the coxswain of CG-45624 [a U.S. Coast Guard vessel] when he noticed an anomaly in the water. Being proactive, he self-diverted and located two jet skiers desperately clinging to their overturned crafts. They were drifting further off shore, in grave danger, and without a means to signal for help when his crew rescued them from the water, saving two lives,” states a citation provided to Sjostrom with his Coast Guard Achievement Medal.
Later in the summer, Sjostrom was involved in another life-saving operation.
“On Aug. 13, 2020, he responded to a report of two children in the water from capsized kayaks near Rocky River. Once on scene, he discovered the young victims clutching each other atop a derelict concrete pad at the face of a steep cliff. As [a crewman] on board CG-29415 [a U.S. Coast Guard vessel], he selflessly volunteered to leave the boat and perform the rescue, despite the danger to himself. With large walls of water nearly sweeping the children into Lake Erie, he leaps across as the boat approached the perilous location,” the citation stated.
“Once there, he shielded the young victims from 5-foot waves while directing the local police department at the top of the cliff to his location,” it states. He was then able to guide the children across a 6-foot gap of turbulent water to the safety of land.
“I was born and raised in Conneaut,” Sjostrom said during a recent telephone interview. He said fishing trips along the Ashtabula River to Lake Erie with his uncle put the idea of eventually serving with the U.S. Coast Guard in his mind.
It ended up taking awhile, but he eventually joined the Coast Guard at the age of 26 after earning a business management degree at the University of Toledo and working in the business world.
“I joined to aid and assist those in peril,” Sjostrom said. He said it was a wonderful feeling to assist in saving lives this past summer.
Sjostrom has served in the Coast Guard for 13 years and hopes to make it a career and retire after 20 years of service. He said he hopes to return to Conneaut or Ashtabula and find work in the boating community.
The challenging work of the U.S. Coast Guard changes quickly in inclement or fast changing weather.
“Our daily routine is very dynamic. Every search and rescue call we get is changing by the minute,” he said of the importance of being able to think quickly and create a plan of attack.