The Air Force and Coast Guard honored a fallen airman during a ceremony at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, Tuesday.
During the ceremony, Air Force Lt. Col. Devin L. Sproston, commander of the 509th Security Forces Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, awarded the Airman’s Medal to Senior Airman Elijah Posana, who was found deceased on Surfside Beach, Texas, May 4, 2021.
Elijah’s father, Erneto Posana, and mother, Jessica Reyes Posana, accepted the Airman’s Medal on their son’s behalf.
The Airman’s Medal is awarded to an Air Force member who distinguished himself or herself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat.
“Nearly a year ago, Senior Airman Posana in his final act in life, heroically sacrificed himself, so others may live,” said Sproston, who presided over the ceremony. “Because of this the Air Force found that he was deserving of the Airman’s Medal. The Airman’s Medal is the highest medal outside of combat that an Airman can receive. As his commander, the selfless actions taken by Airman Posana should be a guiding light for all my Airmen to emulate while serving this country and the people within it.”
Posana was swimming 100 yards off the beach with three cousins on May 2, 2021, when a rip current pulled them all away from the shore. Posana and his adult cousin, Ethan, instructed their two young relatives to swim parallel to the beach and pushed them toward the shore, helping them escape the rip current. A wave then separated Elijah from Ethan, carrying the airman farther out.
The Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies searched for Posana before his father found his son’s body just north of where the rip current had swept him away.
“The Coast Guard’s motto is ‘Semper Paratus – Always Ready’,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jason Smith, commander, Sector Houston-Galveston. “Elijah more than embodied this motto by immediately taking action at a time when most would only be concerned with saving themselves. He noticed three of his young cousins were in danger and pushed them to safety. In doing so he saved the lives of those close to him, sadly at the cost of his own. Elijah’s heroic actions will be remembered as one of the most courageous and heartfelt beach rescues in the Galveston-Freeport area.”
A Houston native, Posana joined the Air Force in March 2019 and was assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron as a defender in September 2020. During his time at Whiteman, Posana played a significant role in securing the protection level one restricted area and was highlighted by his team. His contributions were key to the squadron earning Air Force Global Strike Command’s Outstanding Large Security Forces Unit Award and the Wing capturing the Omaha Trophy for the Best Strategic Bomber Wing for 2019.
Posana was posthumously promoted to the rank of Senior Airman and awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.