Baptism on the Beach
Monday, May. 18, 1959
Buzz It was a sunny afternoon in San Francisco. Shirley O'Neill and Albert Kogler, 18-year-old freshmen at San Francisco State College, went for a swim off Baker's Beach, near the Golden Gate Bridge.
They were treading water about 50 yds. offshore when Al Kogler cried out. "I turned around," Shirley said later, "and saw this big grey thing flap up into the air. I don't know if it was a fin or a tail. I knew it was some kind of fish. There was thrashing in the water. He screamed again. He said, 'It's a shark! Get out of here!'"
Looking down on the ocean from the Presidio, San Francisco's history-encrusted Army post, Master Sergeant Leo P. Day saw what happened next. "I could see the boy in the foaming red water, shouting and signaling someone to 'go back, go back.' Then I saw the girl, swimming toward him, completely ignoring his warning. It was the greatest exhibition of courage I have ever seen."
Shirley reached Albert and seized his hand, "but when I pulled, I could see that his arm was just hanging by a thread." She slipped her arm around him and began to swim for the beach. When she was near enough, a fisherman threw her a line. After they were on the sand, Shirley, a Roman Catholic, scooped up some sea water and let it run over the head of her friend (who had never been baptized and belonged to no specific faith). "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,"* said Shirley, making the sign of the Cross, and whispered to Albert, "Is that all right?"
"O.K.," he gasped.
She told him to repeat after her the act of contrition: "0 my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love."
Just before Albert Kogler lapsed into unconsciousness, he whispered: "I love God, and I love my mother and I love my father. Oh God, help me." Two hours later, in the Presidio's Letterman General Hospital, he died.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 81,00.html