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Good Samaritan's family honored with "Gold Life Saving Medal"

Buentello was a retired Marine Master Sgt. who didn't lose his commitment to service when he took his uniform off. 

A local hero who died saving the lives of two teens is being honored with a rare medal.

A year ago, Rodney Buentello didn’t hesitate to dive into the rushing waters of the Medina River to save the girls.

Eyewitness News reporter Karen Grace was at Monday morning's Coast Guard’s “Golden Life Saving Medal” ceremony.

Wearing her son's ashes around her neck, the mother of Rodney Lee Buentello accepted the rare honor with her husband, Buentello’s two sons, and widow by her side.

“It’s been a year since it happened,” Lisa said. “But every ceremony never gets easier.”

Her son proudly held “The Gold Lifesaving Medal” which is one of the nation's oldest honors.

He and his brother witnessed their father's bravery. They were there when their dad dove into rushing waters. “He saved two people,” described the youngster.

On the Medina River June 8th, 2016, his father answered the screams of two teenage girls. He saved them from the rivers strong undertow, but lost his life in the rescue.

Buentello was a retired Marine Master Sgt. who didn't lose his commitment to service when he took his uniform off.

And for that, he was honored Monday.

“The bar is very high for this award,” described Rear Adm. Dave Callahan. “It says extreme and heroic daring is specific criteria for this award."

Created in 1874 only for individuals who rescue a person at the risk of his or her own life, the Coast Guard doesn't give out very many.

“It has been in existence for 143 years, we’ve only given it out 728 times,” added Callahan.

And even in death Buentello is giving back.

The Golf Club of Texas hosting a golf tournament to raise scholarship money for students of his alma matter- John Jay high school.

“It’s a blessing for us,” Lisa said. “It’s going to keep his memory and his action alive."

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