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Soldier saves Virginia veteran stuck in the Appomattox River: 'It was a miracle'

Posted at 4:31 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 13:23:06-04

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Mike Goodwin called his rescue a miracle. The 75-year-old Vietnam veteran was in big trouble after he fell out of his boat while fishing in the Appomattox River last week.

"When I reached back for the anchor rope, I just went right over," Goodwin said.

For 30 minutes he clung to the side of the boat, trapped in freezing water.

"I got ready to turn loose a few times, just couldn't do it," he said.

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Vietnam veteran Mike Goodwin was rescued from the Appomattox River.

Just down the river, Chief Warrant Officer Chris Miserlian was setting up to go fishing after he finished class at nearby Fort Lee.

Miserlian had his rod and reel but did not have something he uses every day — his hearing aids.

"I noticed a boat," Miserlian recalled about his time at the river bank. "[Then] I thought I heard a cry for help."

Miserlian moved closer.

"I definitely heard somebody holler for help," he said.

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Chief Warrant Officer Chris Miserlian rescued a man while fishing in the Appomattox River.

It was Goodwin.

He was in the water where he'd clung to his boat for more than 30 minutes.

"It was a miracle seeing him standing there, already waist-deep in the water and heading in my direction, it was a miracle," Goodwin said.

But the rescue was not easy.

"The first thing that happens is I sink past my knees in some real sticking mud," Miserlian said. "[Then] I noticed he was on oxygen, so I asked if he was breathing fine."

Unable to get Goodwin back in the fishing boat, Miserlian climbed aboard and started the trolling motor.

"I told the gentleman to hang on, we're going to pull the anchor and try to get to the boat ramp," Miserlian said.

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It worked and eventually both the soldier and the veteran were on dry land.

"It was a miracle, there's no getting around it," Goodwin said.

The duo reunited at the river this week to meet each other under calmer circumstances.

"Thank you so much," the veteran said.

"You're welcome, anytime," the soldier replied.

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