USS John C. Stennis passes the USS Arizona Memorial as the Nimitz class aircraft carrier arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
February 18, 2016, a Bell Helicopter 206B impacted water about 20 feet from the shoreline at Pearl Harbor. Local news outlets reported that Bryan Eisenberg, who was working in Hawaii with the National Park Service at the time, witnessed the crash and immediately took action. He is now set to receive the Presidential Medal of Valor in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.
The NTSB’s preliminary report said that the Genesis Helicopters aircraft was giving a tour when the pilot reported hearing a loud “bang” and saw that the engine instruments showed decreasing rotor rpm. The pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. One passenger sustained minor injuries. One passenger — a teenager — was fatally injured. News reports said bystanders saw the helicopter descend into the water, Eisenberg among the group. The group was able to rescue the four survivors, but the teenager was trapped in the cabin. Reports said that Eisenberg and a Navy officer who was also on the scene took turns diving in attempt to cut the passenger out of his harness. He was pulled out of the cabin alive, but later succumbed to his injuries.
The Presidential Medal of Valor is “awarded annually by the U.S. president or vice president to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Dept. of Justice.