A South Portland Boy Scout with Troop 1 in Portland last week received one of the organization’s highest and most infrequently bestowed awards, the Heroism Award.
The Boy Scouts of America award recognized 15-year-old Parker Montano’s successful efforts last summer to save two youths who were drowning in a hotel pool in New Jersey. The award is given to a scout or adult leader who “saved or attempted to save life under circumstances that indicate heroism and risk to his or her own life,” according to a BSA description. In 2012, there were 155 Heroism Awards awarded; there have been only 3,506 awarded since 1923.
According to Boy Scouts of America, Montano, a sophomore at Cheverus High School and a South Portland resident, was vacationing in the New York area last July with his family. While he was swimming in a hotel pool with about 20 other swimmers, an older teen boy who weighed close to 200 pounds began to hang onto him at the deep end of the pool. The pool did not have a lifeguard. Both boys went underwater momentarily, and on resurfacing, the boy told Montano he couldn’t swim.
Parker used rescue techniques learned in Boy Scouts to take control over the larger boy and get him to safety.
As Montano caught his breath at the side of the pool, a woman ran screaming to Parker, yelling for help for her daughter who had gone underwater without resurfacing. Montano scanned the pool and located the approximately 12-year-old girl. He swam to the girl and dove to rescue her. He pulled her to the surface and swam her to the side of the pool, to waiting adults. The girl began coughing and was able to start breathing again.
“I wasn’t thinking about what to do, it was more like an impulse – it seemed like what was right at the moment,” said Montano in a Scout press release. “My mind processed it later. The fear dawned on you over what happened, and then there was a sense of relief that you were there and could help.”
Montano’s father, Peter Montano, said his son has always been one to help others.
“He believes there is good in the world and sometimes it needs a helping hand,” he said. “I have never been so proud of my son!”
Troop 1 Scoutmaster John Hume noted that he has been active in scouting in Portland as a Cub Scout, Boy Scout and adult leader for more than 40 years.
“In all those years this is the first time that I have seen this award presented. Montano’s family, the Boy Scouts, and others important players in his life have provided him with the moral and intellectual tools to use in life,” said Hume. “When it was time to act, it was Parker who chose to do the right thing, and it is Parker who deserves the credit for his heroic actions.”
“The medal is nice – the biggest reward is knowing the two people I saved are OK,” said Parker.
Montano lives in South Portland with his father, mother Karen, brother Jason – who is also a scout in Troop 1 – older sister Samantha and little sister Sara, a Star Scout.