Toms River, New Jersey has a another reason to be proud right now! Chris Ashenfelder, a Toms River North graduate is a local hero! Chris is 21 years old and currently living in Hawaii while he serves in the U.S. Navy as petty officer 2nd class. Rescues are not a typical part of the job this early on but Chris rose to the occasion.

A fisherman was lost at sea for over 12 hours and the mission was to find him and bring him to safety.  This was no easy task since the fisherman was floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean at night. While lost at sea the fisherman was no doubt suffering from hypothermia and dehydration so they had to move fast.

Hear Chris tell us about his rescue here:

Chris boarded a Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and took off looking for him after the fisherman’s wife called the Coast Guard to report her husband missing. Of the 4 servicemen on the aircraft, Chris was to be the rescue swimmer.

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They were prepped with the knowledge that the rescue success rate would be low but they bravely pushed on. Their persistence paid off because they spotted him!  The fisherman was smartly signaling with the reflection of a mirror and they circled back to get him.  Now it was up to Chris to take a seven story plunge out of the chopper into the dark sea to save him.  Chris was propelled by cable down to the victim who's boat had capsized. The fisherman only had a lifejacket and buoys to keep him a float. Chris secured him to his straps and gave the signal to be raised up taking the man to safety.

Chris was following in his late grandfather's footsteps when he joined the Navy and I have to think he was proudly looking over his grandson for his first rescue.  Thank you Chris, you are a hometown hero!
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