Tracy, you were recently awarded a medal by Vice President Dick Cheney, right? Yes, Chris Greiman and I rescued two swimmers that were caught in a strong tide at Tarague Beach, here on Guam.

Most of us probably will never save another person’s life. How does it feel? At first, all I thought was that I had just helped someone out. Then, when we had the rehearsal for the vice president’s arrival, they read the citation over the loud speakers and I thought to myself, “Wow, that was amazing that someone would do that.” Then it hit me … it was me they were talking about. I realized then that I had actually saved someone. It is an amazing feeling that something I did really made a difference to someone.

Did you rely on any first aid or Red Cross training? When I was a lifeguard, I was taught that you need to remain calm and focus on what to do next. That is what helped me out there. I just kept my mind on what I needed to do to get the guy and me back to the beach safely.

What were the waters like when you went in?Saying that the waters were rough doesn’t begin to explain how bad it really was. The waves were quick and hard and then there was a current taking you from the beach to the edge of the reef where the waves were slamming you into the sharp reef. You had only a split second to catch an ounce of air before you were sucked into another wave and slammed into the reef again.

Did you have second thoughts about going into those perilous waters?The response was automatic. There was no time for second thoughts. It all happened so quickly. When we were heading out to the swimmers, Chris and I focused on where the swimmers were and how many there were. Once I got pulled into the same wave as the swimmers, it was just a matter of keeping focused on what needed to be done to get back to shore.

What does the award mean to you?The medal itself is definitely one of my prized possessions. I am honored and appreciative of everything it stands for. As for how it was presented to me, the efforts that went into such a wonderful event warms my heart. I don’t know how many people went above and beyond on my behalf, but I am grateful to all of them for a once in a lifetime experience.

Seems like you don’t let your small build slow you down.My father taught me growing up that size is not a determining factor when faced with a challenge; it’s determination and know-how. You could say that I don’t let my size slow me down, or you could even say that I use my size to my advantage.

Have you received a lot of notice around Andersen Air Force Base since the rescue?Yes, especially right after it happened. Not too many of my friends were at the beach that day, so the phone did not stop ringing for a few days. Then it was nice that things went back to normal until the whole vice president visit.

In one sentence, what is your philosophy on life?Always remember where you have been and where you are going, stay true to yourself and those around you and cherish every moment, whether it be good or bad.

What do you do in your spare time?I have three beautiful children (Clayton, Liam and Makayla) and a husband (Michael) remote to Korea … Spare time is a thing of the past.

Tracy McVayAge: 31Title: Mother of threeLocation: Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Call Paul Newell at Stars and Stripes with the person’s name and contact information at DSN 229-3158 or e-mail him at:

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