Award Recipient

David P. Forsythe

Awarded: Knight Commander’s Medal – March 8, 2013

David Forsythe (Epsilon Lambda–Miami ’13) was a sophomore studying International Business at the Miami University. Epsilon Lambda Chapter had, over the years, taken many summer service trips. In 2013, they affiliated with the international service organization, Amigos for Christ which devotes its time and resources to establish systems of clean drinking water in third world countries. David and 12 other members traveled to Nicaragua together to help make a difference.

During the trip, 30-40 volunteers were allowed a “free day” on a Pacific-side beach. David has enjoyed surfing since he was a little kid, so while the water was particularly rough, this was a perfect break. While enjoying the day, David noticed one young man along with three young ladies about 100-200 feet down shore. Thirty seconds later, David glanced to notice that the three girls had made their way to the beach while the young man, whose name is Andrew Wiseman, was nowhere to be found. David  then spotted him well off shore, past the first set of breakers. David knew that Andrew had been caught by a powerful rip tide.

According to Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman’s 2003 Yale University Press Book, Dr. Beach’s Survival Guide, while the “greatest fear of many beachgoers are sharks, in reality, only one person on average is killed annually in the United States by sharks, which pales in comparison to the 100+ people who drown and tens of thousands of swimmers who struggle in the deadly rip currents each year.”

Against the urges of the team leaders and others, David began to swim out to Andrew. Upon reaching the struggling young man, David kept his cool repeating, “it’s ok, just calm down.” The young man, a wrestler from Purdue University, was wasting energy. David at 6’ 1’’ and 170 pounds, was smaller, but because he was calm, he had his wits. The pair drifted past the second set of breakers.

David looked back towards the shore and as he recalls he, “couldn’t even see the beach.” Taking what he knew from surfing David grabbed onto the struggling man and began to swim. Andrew was losing energy, but David needed his help. As a surfer, David knew that, “in order to take waves into the beach, you must hold onto your surf board, go under, over, under, and over the waves.” Instead of a surfboard, David pushed Andrew through every wave. Finally, when David reached the wave “Impact Zone” for surfers, a place where the final waves crash before the beach, he himself was running out of energy. He felt the last wave come, and he pushed Andrew forward, while falling back. After tumbling under water, he rushed to the surface but the man was nowhere to be found—because he wasn’t in the water anymore. David’s last push allowed for the young man to take the wave to the shore. David had saved Andrew’s life.

“I had only known [David] three days and there was no reason that he should’ve risked his own life to  save mine.” —  Andrew Wiseman who was saved from drowning by David Forsythe

Andrew Wiseman was the first to alert the Kappa Alpha Order National Administrative Office of Forsythe’s efforts, saying,
“David immediately swam out to me to assist me. I had only known him three days and there was no reason that he should’ve risked his own life to save mine. I am extremely grateful for his aid in getting me back to shore and I hope that his bravery can be recognized by his fraternity.” When David was asked why he took the risk and swam out in the rough waters, he said he “hoped someone would have done it for him.”