The People of America

John Kenny


Nags Head, NC – John Kenny is a fire captain who now spends his days on Nags Head beach saving lives.  Seems a fairly large number of swimmers are caught up in strong currents and are swept out to sea. Problem is, few know how to rescue themselves.


The federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ) says:


“A rip current, sometimes incorrectly called a rip tide, is a localized current that flows away from the shoreline toward the ocean, perpendicular or at an acute angle to the shoreline. It usually breaks up not far from shore and is generally not more than 25 meters (80 feet) wide.


“Rip currents typically reach speeds of 1 to 2 feet per second. However, some rip currents have been measured at 8 feet per second—faster than any Olympic swimmer ever recorded.”

Kenny, who is “alway on duty,” has an insulated wetsuit for cold weather rescues.


The father of four says he was “raised a Catholic,” and he “prays every night” about his assignment. On the day we met him the waves were breaking head-high, slapping the shore with great power.


He was letting his young dog, Riley, run freely on the beach.

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