April 1, 2019

Lt. Henry Carrow Named Firefighter of the Year

Lt. Henry Carrow (center) with his Engine 2 crew Engineer Ben Pickett and Firefighter Garrett Powers

Next time Lt. Henry Carrow saves somebody from drowning, he’d rather be wearing fins.

“It’s a lot easier,” said Engine 2’s Carrow, who was a rescue swimmer during his career in the United States Navy.

Carrow (photo center) left active duty more than 25 years ago, but recently he’s dove into the Atlantic Ocean not once but twice while off duty to come to the aid of someone in distress. The first time was in 2016 at Hanna Park. That save occurred during an annual Mother’s Day family outing for the women in his immediate and extended family. Carrow’s actions escaped the attention of local news and co-workers, and that anonymity was absolutely fine by him.

In an uncanny repeat of history, another scenario unfolded on Mother’s Day 2018. This time, it happened during another family outing, but on St. Augustine Beach. Most of Carrow’s family had gone home by mid-afternoon, and he and his wife and friends were relaxing on the beach when Carrow noticed a St. Johns County police cruiser speeding down the shoreline. Driving on the beach is permitted in St. Johns County, but the officer’s high speed initially puzzled Carrow.

Then it all made sense.

“My buddy was looking at me, and I knew,” Carrow said. “I threw off my hat and glasses and started.”

Carrow entered the rough water and swam 50 yards or more to a young man in distress.

“He just kept saying, ‘I’m going to drown,’” Carrow recalled. “I told him ‘No you’re not.’”

Turns out the retired rescue swimmer had his own doubts as he became fatigued. “It was the first time I thought this might not work out,” said Carrow. “It’s a lot easier when you’re in your 20s.”

The 50-something Carrow delivered on his promise to rescue the boy. Carrow also left the beach before media arrived. But this time, his anonymity was overcome by JFRD’s Awards Committee, which recently selected him as JFRD’s Firefighter of the Year.

Photo: Lt. Henry Carrow (center) with his Engine 2 crew Engineer Ben Pickett and Firefighter Garrett Powers.