Family of fallen airman accept award on his behalf: 'It doesn't fill the hole Elijah left behind'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The military recognized a Houston airman, who died saving his cousins from a rip current in Surfside Beach nearly a year ago, for an act of heroism.

The Air Force and Coast Guard awarded the Airman's Medal to Senior Airman Elijah Posana at a ceremony Tuesday in southeast Houston.

Posana's parents accepted the award on their son's behalf.

The 22-year-old helped push his younger cousins to shore then got separated by another wave during a beach outing in early May 2021.

"As big as the award is, it doesn't take away the pain or fill the hole that Elijah left behind when he left, but we're very happy. We're very proud of him," said cousin Ethan Posana.

SEE RELATED STORY: Missing Air Force airman's dad locates a body day after search suspended along coastal Brazoria Co.

The chief of police in Surfside Beach told ABC13 Posana's body was found by his father two days after a search got underway.

"Nearly a year ago, Senior Airman Posana, in his final act in life, heroically sacrificed himself so others may live," said Air Force Lt. Col. Devin L. Sproston, who presided over the ceremony. "Because of this the Air Force found that he was deserving of the Airman's Medal. As his commander, the selfless actions taken by Airman Posana should be a guiding light for all my Airmen to emulate while serving this country and the people within it."

The Airman's Medal is the highest medal an airman can receive outside of combat.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.