On September 10, 1984, Mark Landers, working alone, was making a wading streamflow discharge measurement in Tallahala Creek near Laurel, MS. Wearing heavy rubber chest-high waders, Mr. Landers was wading in a cross-section about 3.5 feet deep several hundred feet upstream from a bridge. The bridge was undergoing rehabilitation, and the stream channel had been dredged as was unevenly deepened in the vicinity. The water in Tallahala Creek at the time was highly turbid, thus making visibility in the water near zero.
During the course of the measurement, Mr. Landers observed William Hare, who was fishing under the bridge, rise to his fee, stagger a few steps, and fall headlong into the stream. Immediately recognizing that Mr. Hare was in distress, Mr. Landers rushed downstream to attempt to aid the main. It was determined later that Mr. Hare had suffered an epileptic seizure. In his traverse downstream, Mr. Landers plunged over his head into the dark, deepened channel, filling his chest waders with water and making further rescue efforts very difficult.
Mr. Landers ignored his own personal safety, swam and pulled himself to the approximate site of submergence, and nearly exhausted, began to search for Mr. Hare. After repeated dives and groping in the murky water, he finally located Mr. Hare, pulled and dragged him up the steep bank to safety. Recognizing that Mr. Hare was unconscious, not breathing, and had no detectable heartbeat, Mr. Landers immediately applied cardiopulmonary techniques, and after several minutes, he was able to revive Mr. Hare. He remained with the man, calmed him ,and secured police and rescue unit assistance. Mr. Hare was hospitalized, treated, and subsequently recovered.
For this act of heroism that saved the life of a drowning man, a genuine altruistic response to a life threatening event at great risk to his own personal safety, Mark N. Landers is granted the Valor Award of the Department of the Interior.