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Smith Point Sea Rescue team presented SAR Life Saving medals

From left are Jim Russell, Buddy Sylvia, Mike Romey, Steve Bowen and Robert Gwaltney.

KILMARNOCK—The Richard Henry Lee (RHL) Chapter of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (VASSAR) met Tuesday, September 17, at Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club (ICYCC).

President Jim Russell presented the SAR Life Saving medal to each member of the Smith Point Sea Rescue (SPSR) team for their heroic actions that saved two men, after dark, under treacherous conditions, in the early morning of July 30, 2019, a few miles North of Smith Point Light.

The rescue story was published in the August 8 issue of The Rappahannock Record in a story captioned “Smith Point Sea Rescue Performs ‘miracle’ mission.” All four members of the rescue team, Buddy Sylvia, Mike Romey, Steve Bowen and Robert Gwaltney, were present at the meeting.

Sylvia, the rescue boat leader, said they had been alerted to the pending peril by the Northumberland County Sheriff’s office following a 911 call from a boater who reported the owner had gone overboard and he had no idea how to operate the disabled boat.

Sylvia said he then called the boater to get more information as to where the boater was. After interrogation, the boater said he thought he had seen Smith Point light. With this scanty information, the rescue team set out. The seas were rough, it was pitch black, and the wind was blowing 15-20 mph from the NNW.

Based on the information they had the rescue boat started a slow track along a line from Smith Point Light projecting a probable path of how a boat without power would drift. After a time, they spotted a man in the water floating on his back and they recovered him. Sylvia said it had to have been divine intervention. If their track had been 50 yards on either side they would most likely not have found the floating man.

Shortly thereafter they spotted the disabled boat and recovered both the passenger and put the boat under tow to return to Reedville—a true miracle on the Chesapeake having been accomplished.

Sylvia then spoke about SPSR. All the members are volunteers. They receive no pay or reimbursement for expenses. They receive no government grants and depend on contributions from donors for their existence.

Russell added that the spirit of volunteering has been the characteristic of the Northern Neck since Revolutionary War times. He also indicated that RHL will seek to get the rescue boat recognized at both the state and national level.

Other items

Russell presented chapter registrar Mike Nickerson a citation from VASSAR that commended his work as a registrar.

He also inducted new members Dirk Metzger of Weems, Dave Johnston of Montross, Collin Smither of Weems and Todd Dabney of Irvington.

The original program for the meeting was to have been a report about Baron von Steuben, the man who brought discipline to the Continental army during the winter at Valley Forge in 1778. This program was postponed until March.

The RHL will next meet on October 15 at ICYCC. The Cobbs Hall Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution will be guests. The speaker will be Dr. Paul Malone, Ph.D. who will discuss Dr. John Mitchell’s map. This map, that can now be seen in Urbanna, was a map used to define the areas in North America at the Treaty of Paris in 1783 that brought an end to the Revolutionary War.

Those who wish to join the chapter and believe they may have a direct line to a patriot who served in the Revolutionary war or assisted the war effort in some way, are urged to contact first vice president Rick Frisbie, 703-801-5329, or; or Nickerson, 436-4187 or

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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