Marine's Son Gets Yet Another Award for Heroism

Connor Stotts was cited for saving fellow teens from drowning on an Oceanside beach. Previously, he was awarded the Boy Scouts of America's coveted Honor Medal with Crossed Palms at a ceremony on Camp Pendleton

Connor Stotts, a teenager embarrassed by his own celebrity, has won another award for his heroism on an Oceanside beach in July of 2011.

In December, he was one of 18 people nationwide honored with a Carnegie Hero Award.

Previously, in September, he was one of 11 to be honored at the 10th annual Real Heroes breakfast of the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties chapter.

And in May he received the “rarest of Boy Scout honors” an Honor Medal with Crossed Palms at a ceremony on Camp Pendleton, where his father, Marine Major Bryan Stotts has been stationed.

Related: Teenage Hero Awarded Boy Scouts' Highest Valor Award

Only 263 of the Scouting awards have been presented since their inception in 1938.

As first reported in Patch that summer, Connor, then 17, was body-surfing with friends from church when they were pulled out to sea by a strong riptide.

“We all realized suddenly that the waves were washing over our heads,” Connor wrote in a report on the incident, corroborated by his pastor, the Rev. Brad Lambert of Calvary Chapel Living Hope.

He actually rescued three from the water that day, but his mother, Gizele, explained that the Carnegie Award cites only cases in which the hero's own life is risked, so it only described two.

The first swimmer he brought to shore, when he was strong, was Belle Ainuu.

The following citationm from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, based in Pittsburgh, comes with a $5,000 award:

“Connor Farland Stotts saved Christian E. Osuna and Karen T. Ainuu from drowning, Oceanside, California, July 31, 2011. While swimming in the Pacific Ocean, Osuna, 18; Karen, 16; and others in their party were carried farther from the beach by a rip current. They struggled to return to shore but made little progress. Connor, 17, high school student, had also been carried out by the current, but he was able to swim against it to wadable water, en route taking one of the girls in the party with him.

“Seeing that the others remained stranded about 200 feet from the beach, Connor returned to them, finding that Osuna had taken in water and was having difficulty staying afloat. With Osuna holding to him, Connor swam a side stroke against the current toward shore, tiring and swallowing water en route. Osuna waded to safety.

“Connor again turned and swam out to the others. Karen by then was semiconscious and trying to stay afloat. Connor positioned himself under her and attempted to swim to shore, but he made no progress against the current. He then helped Karen secure a hold of his neck and in that fashion returned toward the beach, towing her, the remaining victims following.

“Nearly exhausted, Connor carried Karen from the water. He and the others were checked at the scene, but none of them needed medical treatment, and they recovered.

Connor's mother writes that the latest award comes “much to Connor's chagrin.” 

The quiet-spoken young man, an honor graduate and former captain of the wrestling team at Oceanside High School, is now a freshman at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a midshipman on a Marine-Option Naval ROTC scholarship.

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