RECAP: Real-Life Hero Behind Disney’s ‘The Finest Hours’ Saluted at Disneyland Resort Flag Retreat Ceremony

Kevin Rafferty, Jr.

by , Communications, WDI


Sixty-four years ago, a group of four men went out to sea in a U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat, battling waves 60 feet high, making their way to the wrecked SS Pendleton. One of the men aboard the ship, Engineman Third Class Andy Fitzgerald, was honored Sunday at Disneyland Resort in recognition of his role in helping save 32 men in the midst of the turbulent storm. The rescue mission is considered the most daring small-boat rescue in U.S. history, and inspired Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” which debuts in theaters today.

During the flag retreat ceremony, Andy joined servicemen and women gathered around the Town Square flag pole while the Disneyland Band and Dapper Dans performed patriotic tunes in honor of their service. After the Disneyland Resort Color Guard lowered the American flag, Andy was presented with a certificate naming him an Honorary Citizen of Disneyland Resort by Disney Ambassador Allie Kawamoto. Take a look back at the ceremony in this video!

Disney’s “The Finest Hours,” is the unforgettable story of the Coast Guard’s courageous mission, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and stars: Chris Pine; Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Casey Affleck; Ben Foster; Holliday Grainger; John Ortiz; and Eric Bana. Produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero, the screenplay is by Oscar® nominee Scott Silver and Oscar nominees Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson based on the acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. Doug Merrifield serves as executive producer. “The Finest Hours” storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016 in Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D.


  • I went to this Flag Retreat last Sunday, Mr. Fitzgerald looked great and it was an honor to have him with us here at Disneyland. Then I was able to see the movie on Saturday – the movie was a very well done account of a terrific story, with great acting performances. I realized even more what these men were able to accomplish against ridiculous odds, and I was even more in awe and felt even more lucky to have had Mr. Fitzgerald at Disneyland. Go see the movie, you’ll be amazed.

  • Mr. Fitzgerald and his fellow crew members are true heroes, who deserve every honor Disneyland and our nation can bestow on them.

    We should all be grateful for their service.

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