USAFA grad saves lives of 3 swimmers, earns Airman's Medal

Airman's Medal

First Lt. Dominic Vicino, a 2015 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy assigned to the 20th Space Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, stands with the Airman’s Medal, awarded in a ceremony at the base Jan. 10, 2018. He saved three people in Miramar Beach, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kristin Stewart)


A 20th Space Control Squadron Airman who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2015 was honored with an Airman’s Medal for his actions Jan. 10.

First Lt. Dominic Vicino distinguished himself by risking his life to save three others March 31 at Miramar Beach, Florida.

That day, swimming was prohibited because of dangerous wildlife and life-threatening riptide conditions along the Gulf Coast. Vicino saw two people waving their arms approximately 100-yards offshore.

“I realized they were in distress, so I dropped my belongings and bolted for the water in a dead sprint,” said the weapons and tactics officer.

Vicino fought dangerous waves and riptides to reach the victims and carry them back to shore. Then he entered the water again and rescued a distressed lifeguard.

“I’m just glad I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said the 24-year-old.

Vicino credits his strong swimming skills to playing water polo for 15 years and to the Academy’s water survival training.

“I am very confident in my swimming ability, so I knew I could get out to them,” said the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native.

Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander, presented the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony witnessed by Vicino’s parents and peers.

“One of the things I really value is courage,” Moore said. “When we recognize that something is not okay, it would be easy to run off, get someone else, or turn our back — but it takes courage to act.”

His commander is proud and believes the lieutenant exemplifies the Air Force’s core values.

“Vicino didn’t earn this medal so much for his efforts as much as his character,” said Lt. Col. Raj Agrawal, 20th SPCS commander. “It was his character that compelled him to disregard his personal safety for the safety of others.”

The Airman’s Medal is the Air Force’s highest noncombat award for Airmen who distinguish themselves by a heroic act. The Airman’s Medal is the same award given to Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, one of three Americans who stopped a terrorist attack aboard a French train in August of 2015.