By Journal Staff
MUNISING — Two park rangers from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore received a U.S. Department of Interior Valor Award during recent ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Chief Ranger Joe Hughes and ranger Matthew Nemeth were honored for their actions during rescue operations of two Lake Superior kayakers caught in gale-force winds while paddling within the national lakeshore in September 2021.
Additional crew members during the operation were National Park Service volunteer Lynnea Fredrikson and Michigan State Police Trooper Trevor Kirkpatrick-Bray. They were recognized with Citizen Bravery Awards during the ceremony.
“Although the two kayakers sadly did not survive, I am very proud of the heroic efforts Joe, Matt, Lynnea and Trevor made to try to rescue them,” said David Horne, park superintendent, in a news release. “They all represented themselves and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore admirably, with honor and with courage.”
The four crew members in the National Park Service boat Arrowhead battled high winds and 5- to 7-foot waves during the search, which covered an area over 516 square miles.
The award citation reads, in part: “The high level of operational risk during this search and recovery effort was undeniable. To reiterate the point, the U.S. Coast Guard incident log had an entry that noted the Operational Risk Management rating for this operation was ‘medium/high with no mitigation possible.’
“The operational conditions stretched the limits of the Arrowhead crew, but they persevered without hesitation or complaint. While two fatalities were not the desired outcome, this incident underscored the leadership, training, preparation and courage of the Arrowhead crew.”
For more information about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, visit www.nps.gov/piro or on Facebook at @PicturedRocksNL and Instagram at @picturedrocksnps.