Hero's bravery medal
FOUR years after Michael Williams' heroic 10 hour swim to raise the alarm that his trawler the Sea Rogue had sunk off Byron Bay he has received a national bravery medal for his actions.
Mr Williams made national news when he clambered ashore exhausted after swimming 16km through shark-infested waters after the trawler's nets snagged on a reef during the night of February 27, 2008 and pulled the boat under.
The boat's three crew escaped through a cabin window and clung to a red ice tub until sunrise.
It was then, after floating in the freezing water for several hours, Mr Williams made the decision to swim for help as he was the strongest swimmer and the boat wasn't due back to port at Yamba for more than 24 hours.
His amazing effort helped save the life of fellow crew member John Jarrett, but the Sea Rogue's captain, Alan "Charlie" Picton, died.
After Mr Williams raised the alarm around 4pm, a search immediately began which located Mr Jarrett six kilometres off Lennox Head where he was winched to safety.
Yesterday he said he still couldn't believe he will be getting the bravery award.
"I am really surprised, but it's awesome," he said.
"It's a great privilege and an honour to go and meet the Governor-General."
Despite this, Mr Williams said no amount of awards will ever bring back his skipper and former school mate Charlie.
This wasn't the first bravery award he has received for his actions.
Last November he was presented with a Royal Humane Society of NSW Bronze Medal by NSW Governor Marie Bashir at Government House in Sydney.
When announcing Mr Williams was one of 19 people across the nation to receive a bravery medal, Governor-General Quentin Bryce said the awards were the highest level of recognition that can be accorded for attainment of outstanding achievement and service in national life.
"Today's announcement of national bravery awards recognises the heroic actions of those amongst us who have placed the safety and lives of others before their own," she said.
"We are privileged to have such role models in our society, and it is an honour to be able to recognise their acts of selfless bravery and thank them publicly for their brave actions, undertaken both in Australia and overseas."
Anyone may nominate any other person for the award of the Australian Bravery Decoration.