This Day in Diving History -- May 5, 2001 -- TMSN(DV) Matthew Draughon is lost during salvage operations on USS SAFEGUARD (ARS-50).
May 5, 2001 - USS SAFEGUARD was conducting recovery operations on a downed F-16 aircraft that crashed into the Sea of Japan off the coast of Misawa, Japan. This operation was being conducted in support of the U.S. Air Force's safety investigation of the mishap. On what was supposed to be the last day of debris recovery, Draughon and another Diver were in process of salvaging debris when both men became entangled underwater near the ship's anchor during a night dive. It is believed that the anchor chain hit Draughon, knocking him unconscious and causing him to become lost at sea.
The second Diver was rescued, but Draughon was not. After a massive air and sea search failed to locate his body, Japanese fishermen discovered his body on June 5th near the inlet of a river just south of the range. Draughon was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery and was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. This is the second highest non-combatant medal awarded by the Navy. The second Diver who was rescued still serves as an ND on active duty. Hoo-Yah.
Note: Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa honored Draughon, by naming its Navy Combined Bachelor Housing (CBH) barracks "Draughon Hall." Along with the naming, a display case was constructed, filled with memorabilia revolving around Draughon's dedicated service.