Torstein Reinholdtsen rescued dozens of people at sea. Learn about the Medal for Outstanding Civic Achievement, a Rescuer Is Honored.
Inside the magazine at Øksnes Museum in Alsvåg there is a medal. It has a bow in red, white and blue, the front is adorned with King Carl Johan XIV’s profile and his name and title as king of Norway and Sweden.
On the back is written “for civic deed” surrounded by laurels.
The medal was given to Torstein Reinholdtsen (1827–1907) during a service in Øksnes church for having saved dozens of people at sea through repeated heroic deeds. There are many stories about Torstein’s achievements at sea. Among other things, it is said that he arrived a full hour late for the handover because on the way to the service he came across a boat in distress at sea and saved another ten men from drowning, including his own son.
It is uncertain exactly when he received the medal. The common story is the medal was awarded by king Carl Johan (1763–1844). In that case, Torstein would have just been a young boy when he received the medal. It is more likely that the handover happened somewhat later, under King Oscar I (1799–1859) or King Carl IV (1826–1872). The bow with the colors of the flag came into use in 1844, when Torstein was 17 years old. The Medal for Outstanding Civic Achievement was redesigned under King Haakon VII (1872–1957) in 1907.
Torstein Reinholdtsen’s achievement is also immortalized with a bauta set up at Kråknes in Øksnes. The bauta was unveiled during Fishermen’s Day on 18 August 1973, and can be visited on the way out to Nyksund.