Coast Guard swimmer describes rescue of alleged Ore. yacht thief and ‘Goonies’ prankster

On the morning the U.S. Coast Guard in Astoria received a frantic mayday call from a yacht sinking near the treacherous mouth of the Columbia River, John “Branch” Walton was in his fifth and final day of advanced training as a rescue swimmer. Walton and his classmates leapt at the chance to respond. But it was a quick game of rock-paper-scissors that settled which swimmer would plunge into the churning, frigid waters nearby. Walton won. He was the least experienced of the bunch. Unbeknownst to the 22-year-old who learned to swim only after joining the Coast Guard a few years earlier, he’d soon execute a very difficult rescue seamlessly. And he would be thrust into the national limelight as millions viewed video of his first real-world rescue, taken from a camera mounted to the Coast Guard helicopter that flew him to the imperiled boater. >click to read< 10:29

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