Off-Duty Soldier Rescues Vietnam Veteran From Virginia River While Fishing

by Matthew Memrick

An off-duty soldier rescued a veteran earlier this month in a Virginia river and both men later reunited to talk about it.

Christopher Miserlian was bank fishing off the Appomattox River last Monday when a cry of help rang out. Miserlian looked out and saw Mke Goodwin hanging on the side of the boat.

The Oregon native swam out and rescued the 75-year-old Vietnam veteran. Days later, after the soldier rescued the veteran, the men reunited to talk about the wild river moment. Outdoor Life reported on the rescue.

Off-Duty Soldier Was Fishing Before Saving Vietnam Vet From River

Chief Warrant Officer Miserlian is an active Army soldier based at Fort Hood in Texas. After 21 years of service, the ammunitions tech takes advanced training at Fort Lee. The man used his downtime for fishing around Petersburg and was about to pitch a line at Roslyn Landing on March 7.

Miserlian told Outdoor Life the fishing trip was a spur-of-the-moment thing. He got out of class, tired from the whole day and feeling beat. Fishing that day was his escape.

The soldier said Roslyn Landing is a prime catfishing spot. The next thing he knew, the adrenaline kicked in.

“…I could see an old man just hanging off the side of the boat in the water,” Miserlian told Outdoor Life. “So I kicked off my shoes, threw my phone and stuff on the ground, and jumped in the water.”

Miserlian heard a ‘help,’ which got him going faster to the boat. He went from being knee-deep in mud to getting into the deeper part of the main channel. The depth there is around 20 feet.

The soldier said the veteran was OK and breathing. But cold and exhausted from his 30-minute water struggle.

Miserlian said the Goodwin was “not scared or anything, there was no fear in his eyes. But I think he was just about ready to let go when I got there.”

Goodwin had reached for the anchor rope and fallen straight into the water. The man said others were around at the park, but no one heard or responded to his cries

Miserlian struggled to get Goodwin on the boat, but it could capsize it. He pulled the anchor and started the motor. After fighting the current and a headwind, the boat made it to shore. By that time, someone had called 911.

Emergency personnel arrived to treat the cold men. Miserlian wanted to follow Goodwin to the hospital, but he opted to go to the hotel for a hot shower. 

Men Reunite Days After Soldier Rescued Veteran

Richmond TV station WTVR learned of the rescue and arranged for both men to meet on March 14. The soldier didn’t tell any of his peers about the rescue.

Goodwin told the news station he didn’t have his hearing aids that day. He did have an oxygen tank for breathing.

“It was a miracle seeing him standing there, already waist-deep in the water and heading in my direction, it was a miracle,” Goodwin told WTVR.

Goodwin served in the military for 22 years with two combat tours in Vietnam. He was not planning to come but changed his mind when the TV station said Miserlian would be there.

Miserlian said he exchanged his phone number with Goodwin. The men agreed to meet again and do some fishing. However, the soldier said it would be “from the bank this time.”