South Portland Boy Scout earns heroism award
SOUTH PORTLAND — Rescuing two children in a hotel pool in New Jersey last July still does not seem like that big a deal to Parker Montano.
"It is kind of weird knowing that I did that and that everyone is making a big deal out of it," Montano, 15, said. "In my mind, it was just the right thing to do."
The "right thing to do" will earn high honors for Montano at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, when Portland Scout Troop 1 convenes a court of honor at Stevens Avenue Congregational Church, 866 Stevens Ave., in Portland.
Montano, a sophomore at Cheverus High School, will be awarded the Heroism Award for his effort last summer. Troop 1 Scoutmaster John Hume said it is the first time he has awarded the honor in his more than 40 years in Scouting.
“When it was time to act, it was Parker who chose to do the right thing, and it is Parker who deserves the credit for his heroic actions,” Hume said.
Montano is a Star Scout pursuing the Eagle Scout rank. If he attains it, the Heroism Award would still be a more rarified feat: 155 Heroism Awards were presented last year, and about 3,500 have been bestowed in the last 90 years.
A cross-country and track runner with a passion for aviation, Montano said he was swimming in a pool with about 20 children last year when he noticed a teenage boy and younger girl playing chicken. There was no lifeguard on duty.
"He lost his balance, they got too close to the deep end," Montano recalled.
The boy, larger and older than Montano, clutched at him, pulling both of them back under the water. Once they resurfaced, he said he could not swim. Using lifesaving techniques he learned as a Scout, Montano was able to get them to the side of the pool.
When they arrived, a woman called out for help for her girl, saying her daughter did not know how to swim. Montano found her, dove, and brought her to the surface.
"A huge part I remember is lifting her up and getting her to the side of the pool. I recall how tired I was after that," he said.
Montano said the two did not require additional first aid.
"Afterwards, it kind of just hit me," he said. "I was perhaps the only person in the pool who was suited to carry them out."
Montano' father, Peter, said the rescues reveal his son's true nature.
“He believes there is good in the world," he said, "and sometimes it needs a helping hand.”