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Nathan Newberg

Nathan Newberg '07

Alum saves lives as a rescue swimmer for the military

On Sept. 8, 2019, a 600-foot carrier with 24 crew members on board capsized while sailing out of Brunswick, Ga. The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah responded as the ship sank, listing heavily on its left side. Nathan Newberg '07 saved the captain and harbor pilot by rappelling down into the bridge, using a fire hose as a rope and a ladder. "It's something we could have never trained for," Newberg says.

Newberg was named the USO Coast Guardsman of the Year for his ingenuity and bravery during the rescue and was promoted to aviation survival technician first class. But Newberg says, "The most rewarding thing about my job is the fact that I get to help people."

As a sociology major at Whitworth, Newberg focused on criminal justice, considering law enforcement as a vocation. After talking to a rescue swimmer his junior year, he enlisted in the Coast Guard after graduation. "Haven't looked back since," he says.

Rescue swimming requires physical fitness, sound decision-making, comfortability in water and teamwork. Four years competing on Whitworth's swimming team helped Newberg push his body to the limit with the support and encouragement of his teammates. Newberg says his experience with the Coast Guard is similar. "Everyone looks out for each other and pushes each other a little harder each day," he says.

Whitworth gave Newberg the space to understand his faith and calling in the world. "It provided a starting point to serve others," he says, "and [taught] me to realize how important that is."

Read the spring 2020 issue of Whitworth Today.

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