Capt. Les received his medal for his act of heroism in saving Scott C. Finne and attempting to save Stian Stiansen from drowning in Hampton Bays, N.Y., on May 12, 2013. Finne, 42, and Stiansen, 85, were aboard a 45-foot commercial fishing boat when it capsized in the rough surf of the Atlantic Ocean as it approached the mouth of an inlet leading to Shinnecock Bay on Long Island. Thrown into the 51-degree water, Finne grasped debris from the boat and stayed afloat, drifting about a mile offshore.
Learning of the accident by radio, Capt. Les, proceeded in his 24-foot Sea Tow to the scene despite five-foot seas with waves reaching nine feet breaking in the inlet. Although other first-responder boats turned back, Capt. Les proceeded through the inlet and spotted the wreckage of the fishing boat. He searched for survivors in the debris field before being directed to Finne’s position by a police helicopter. Capt. Les positioned his boat about 18 feet from Finne and then drew him to the boat by means of a life ring attached to a line. The men returned to the wreckage and looked in vain for Stiansen until they were relieved by a Coast Guard vessel, then returned to safe harbor in the bay.