The GNA Insider honors former GNA alumnus

Harley LaRue, Student Writer




On January 28, 2019, in the early hours of the morning, GNA graduate Dustin Bernatovich passed away at a Texas hospital after checking in for a pre-existing condition.

Born in Kingston on May 21, 1981, to Michael and Suzanne Bernatovich, Dustin dedicated himself to a healthy and hardworking lifestyle. Growing up, he adored sports, especially wrestling. In high school, he lost fifteen pounds in order to drop down to the 275 weight class. This was the first of many commitments Dustin would make on his path to a healthy lifestyle. After graduating from GNA, Bernatovich went on to attend Wilkes University for criminal justice, where he played as a defensive tackle for the Colonels. After college, Bernatovich joined the Coast Guard to pursue a career in drug enforcement; however, after encouragement from his friends, he trained to become a rescue swimmer.

Bernatovich’s first assignment with the Coast Guard was Air Station Miami. His father was on his way to visit Bernatovich when he looked up at the airport TV to see footage of his son rescuing a Haitian woman.

Associated Press

From 2003 to 2013, Bernatovich served as a rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard. He was one of the first rescue swimmers at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Bernatovich had just been released to return home when he got the call that an oil rig had exploded. He was lowered into the water in a lifeboat where he was to evaluate the survivors. He saved countless lives with his sheer courage and bravery. According to Legacy, “Dustin would go on to serve the U.S. Coast Guard at Airstation New Orleans and Airstation Atlantic City, earning 16 awards to include the prestigious Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal.”

In July of 2016, Bernatovich joined the League City Police Department and quickly earned a place on the SWAT entry team. He later earned the Chief’s Coin of Excellence for his timely response to the Santa Fe High School shooting.

Bernatovich was regarded as a sweet gentleman with the big heart. He made many close friends throughout his life because of his kindness and his sense of duty.

The GNA Insider sends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of Dustin Bernatovich, a 1999 GNA graduate and true American hero.