Representative Tulsi Gabbard visited Maui on Monday to recognize the heroism of U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer (Ret.) Mitchell Lani, who received the U.S. Coast Guard Commendation Medal for his brave actions while training for deployment during the Korean War.
Lani was serving as a cook aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forster in 1953, when a cable got caught in the ship’s propulsion system. With the ship immobile in dangerous waters with 12-foot swells, the lifelong waterman jumped into action. After several hours and multiple life-threatening free dives, Lani succeeded in releasing the cable and freeing the Forster. However, Lani went for 66 years without being recognized for his heroic actions that day.
On Monday, Coasties gathered with Lani’s family and friends as Admiral Kevin Lunday formally recognized Mitchell Lani for his service and courageous actions, presenting him with the U.S. Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
“In this country, each citizen is encouraged to do their part and to lend a helping hand for the betterment of others, their community, and their nation. Some go above and beyond in answering this call to service. Mitchell Lani is one such man,” Representative Tulsi Gabbard said at the awards ceremony. “Mitchell displayed bravery, strength, and fearlessness, motivated by aloha and love for his fellow Coasties, his country, and the people of Hawai‘i. We recognize and honor Mitchell for his care, heroism, and selfless service to our nation.”
Born and raised in Ho‘olehua, Moloka‘i, Mitchell Pau‘ole Lani grew up as a waterman in a family where diving and picking ‘opihi was a way of life. He now resides on Maui with his wife Florence, proudly enjoying his eight children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.